back to article British film board rejects 'disturbing' sexual torture film

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) have issued a rare rejection notice for a "disturbing and realistic" DVD called NF713. A spokeswoman for the BBFC denied that the decision was in any way influenced by the new extreme porn law, adding that they did not feel it breached that legislation in any way. Opponents of that …

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V for Vendetta?

Yeah, *so* much unpleasant torture is depicted in that. The blind reporting on the blind :)

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If the BBFC don't think it's extreme..

... does this mean that anyone who is prosecuted under the extreme porn law for material that includes "genital torture with forceps and electricity, makeshift waterboarding, beatings and forced urination" has at least a mitigating argument?

The BBFC as the only people so far to offer any opinion, don't think it counts as extreme, at least in this instance.

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Anonymous Coward

dicks

"including young people with a far less developed view of sex."

They'll just download it.

As to the idea of the film, it sounds interesting, but I'm not really tempted to watch it, I'll read a few case studies instead and spare myself the grissly spectacle.

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So....

How long before there is a torrent for this?

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Potential problem with the 'extreme porn' laws

If a film is passed by the BBFC then it does not fall under the 'extreme porn' law.

If a film is not passed by the BBFC then it might fall under the 'extreme porn' law.

So... does this mean that while an 'extreme' film is being watched by the BBFC people before it's passed, that the BBFC is committing a crime?

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...doh

I did of course mean 'law' not 'lav'. *facepalm*

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Waste of time, yet again

So, another recommendation for movies to download? Thanks, BBFC!

I don't know why they bother with censorship/bans any more. It didn't work in the "video nasties" era when I had to order banned movies on VHS through the post from Greece, it sure as hell won't now. Oh, by the way:

"Their experience, gained from viewing hundreds of films every year, gives them a very clear insight into what constitutes material that is sexual in nature and potentially harmful."

So, what makes them immune from such harm? If they watch hundreds of these movies each year, surely they'd be more affected than anyone else. The fact that they're not means it's the person, not the movie, that's the problem and driving distribution of the movies underground won't change that.

A waste of time and money. Just as the "ultimate in depravity" (Salo, Caligula) from 20-30 years ago is now legally available uncut on DVD in higher clarity than ever before, with no social consequences, so this is just a distraction from the real issues...

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Stop

Well done BBFC...

You've now ensured a film that would have been ignored by most people will be torrented to hell and back.

Genius.

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'tards

"including young people with a far less developed view of sex."

So give it an 18 rating, then kids can't buy it, simple surely? (I know it's not really, but that's the idea?)

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Hmmm...

"The BBFC ... explain that their strict policy is not to issue classification to such works if they depict non-consensual sexual activity (whether real or simulated)."

Really? What about the French film "Baise-Moi" (2000) which was available on DVD in the UK? That was a very dark film. In fact, I didn't particularly enjoy the first rape scene so turned it off and still haven't seen the rest of it. Aside from my own squeamishness, is this a consistent argument?

I'm still liable to err on the side of the BBFC though. It's a difficult job and given the magnitude of films and video games they go through their error rate is admirably low.

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Done the job

The BBFC here have probably done more to help the stated aims of this film than could have been done otherwise.

First off, many people will download the film just to see what the fuss is about. Personally, I won't (it's not my cuppa tea, give me some good ole' fashioned humping, or a bit of girl-on-girl, any day, I'm boring like that...), but the number of people who will see this film has likely now shot up from the BDSM crowd to the average, curious layperson.

Secondly, those who (like me) won't now at least know of it's existence, and I may be having a look round for info about the film and it's subject matter (if I get a rare free moment...)

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Anonymous Coward

Words are so powerful

A woman once described to me Devils Advocate. It sounded so scary and gruesome from the words she spoke, but when I saw the movie I was very disappointed in comparison, lots of latex effects and the like... no where near as good as the image I'd conjured on my head.

It's the power of words, it conjures images in peoples heads which are far stronger and far more real than the special effects on the screen. Many modern horror writers make the mistake of showing the action rather than leaving it to the imagination, and as a result their movies are a niche genre with limited appeal, when compared to more mainstream movies that fire peoples imaginations.

So when I read the description of this film, it sounds so horrifying, but I bet the reality, if I ever saw it for myself, would be nothing much.... oh right, UK people will never see it for themselves because it's banned. Instead they'll only have the description, and the far more real and scary imagined version in their head.

Like Clockwork Orange scares a generation, but not really, the press stories did, and they used their imaginations to scare themselves.

Censorship is a crime against reason, it forces you to judge something by the hearsay word of others, as though their judgement is better than your own. As though they alone are special enough to make the correct judgement.

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I don't know much about "art"...

...but i know what sounds like some seriously sick shit, that does.

Its the people who want to watch this that scare me, like those rape and scat websites, if there are people into all that stuff i really would rather not know about it, nor encourage them.

Anyone who'd see that as a form of entertainment needs mental help. Anyone who sees it as Art, well those people are mostly mental anyway.

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Paris Hilton

@Nigel Whitfield/nature of law

Nigel,

It would be very unwise to take from this ruling that the BBFC had decided that the practices in question were NOT subject to the extreme porn law. Rather, they are walking a very fine line between several pieces of law.

First, the Obscene Publications Act, which requires them not to license for distribution material likely to "deprave or corrupt". Second, the Video Recordings Act, which requires them to have thought for the potential harm that a particular film may provoke, Finally the extreme porn clauses of the Criminal Justice Bill, which may not strictly fall within their remit...but which talk about explicit depictions of certain harm.

Clearly, ther is a difference between potential harm and actual harm and my understanding is that whilst this film touches on all of the topics mentioned, it does not actually depict them in graphic detail. There is (I believe) genital torture - but this is implied rather than shown.

That suggests that the film would definitely fall foul of the VRA, probably fall foul of the OPA - but not hit the spot in terms of extreme porn. Which is why some individuals are now asking whether the law hasn't just made an ass of itself by putting in place so many footling distinctions, rather than - as in New Zealand - adopting one yardstick for all material irrespective of whether it is possessed or distributed.

Paris...cause she has a tendency to deprave and corrupt

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@ Jason

If people are downloading the film by BitTorrent or similar means, then at least the filmmakers won't be making any money out of it. I'm suspecting that is enough to keep the BBFC happy. As far as they're concerned, copyright infringement comes under the heading of Some Other Fool's Problem.

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Pirate

re: I don't know much about "art"...

Erm... totally agree! This China bloke probably had a bad experience as a child.

There is a fine line these days between 'art' and sick shit that needs some serious ridicule.

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Coat

re: I don't know much about "art"...

"By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 8th April 2009 12:28 GMT

...but i know what sounds like some seriously sick shit, that does. Its the people who want to watch this that scare me, like those rape and scat websites, if there are people into all that stuff i really would rather not know about it, nor encourage them. Anyone who'd see that as a form of entertainment needs mental help. Anyone who sees it as Art, well those people are mostly mental anyway."

I do not know what you may or may not know much about in general. But I suggest that your argument is perfectly applicable also when it comes to main stream TV productions such as CSI.. As the content and graphical representation in CSI is focused on making explicit suggestions towards all those things that you would recognise as "some seriously sick shit". I would then assume that this would logically mean that you should be scared of all those people who watch CSI and that you see those people as mostly mental anyway...

... As far as I can tell there appear to be some flaws in your logic... but I guess that you can continue to be smug and rest assured that you are in "good company"...

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curious

So I read that these forms of 'censorship' are bad because they have no effect, or even an inverse effect. Of course, this implies that there is some country out there, with no classification rules, to compare to, right? Would someone be so good as to let us in on where this utopia is?

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(Written by Reg staff)

re: I don't know much about "art"...

Anything can be art. It's all in the context. You can explore anything you want to in whatever medium.

I think the BBFC will have to take care not to er, self-censor as the public is being pushed to do with extreme porn. But in this instance - I don't know, I'd have to see the film. Which I can't. But I could barely watch Audition, strong as my stomach is for that sort of thing. But I don't think that was beneath classification. Ah, I don't know. I'm tired.

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Anonymous Coward

BBFC harmed?

Presumably every at the BBFC who saw the film has been psychologically harmed, to the extent that they are unable to classify the film.

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Sexual torture is wrong...

but plain old torture for the sake of mutilation is fine.

So, the kids can watch Hostel and Saw, and laugh long and hard and the excruciating and realistic pain being inflicted on humans, so long as they don't get a stiffy.

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How does one join the BBFC?

I mean obviously one doesn't say at intervie that one intends to change things but this originally came down to one person's judgement call. A few more lenient people working in film classification could make a big difference.

Personally, the worst kind of extreme porn I've seen on the internet was on youtube and consists of american wrestling matches. Type in 'wrestling bra panty' and you'll find it, sure it's just a fancy striptease, but it's a fancy striptease in which people's heads get stamped on. However, it's considered to be sport and sport is good, even if it's a turn on and people get put on life support.

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@I don't know much about "art"...

And what scares *me* is people like you and Wacky Jacqui Smith and David Blunkett and Jack Straw and all other of your ilk who assume that simply by *watching* something, you're going to "encouraged" to go out and do it without any regard for the consequences or the safety of the people involved.

Ever since Socrates was sentenced to death for "corrupting the youth of Athens" there have been those who want to take us down the Thought Crime route of "if they don't see it, they won't do it", the so-called Extreme Pornography Legislation being just the latest example of this nonsensical argument.

Of course the fact that the BBFC has rejected this film's application for a certificate means virtually damn all now, not least because it will still be entirely legal to publish the film abroad and then import it into the UK, you just won't be able to buy it from a shop *IN* the UK!

The BBFC is an obsolete organisation that is still trying to give itself some sort of meaning in a world that has passed it by.

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Paris Hilton

Poor Sods

You poor sods still living in England. I will go to my local video store, rent anything I like, including NF713, while reading a copy of Spy Catcher. I will not appear on any state owned surveillance camera, I will not have my license plate recorded, and even if I break the law, I will not have my DNA stored by the state. Time to abandon mother ship England before the borders are sealed.

There is no good beer in the US, but its a small price to pay for liberty.

Paris, because she can't understand why there aren't more cameras.

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Coat

It's all just a bit of harmless fun

Taken aside each component sounds a bit horrible :

1) Doing a wee without intent - just ask any old person

2) Taking a bath on a board (times were hard in them days)

3) Electricity being ploughed into your flossy - potentially could be used to seal a wound; perhaps she was injured?

4) Mental torture. That is gruesome. My ex was into that. She was a monster.

5) Physical torture. See point #4.

6) Sexual abuse. One of the reasons my aforementioned ex and I split up. Not enough of it.

But all the individual parts come-together to form a whole.

It's a bit like football - the beautiful game. Except with more balls. And a flossy.

:-)

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Anonymous Coward

900 smackers to join the BBFC

for a year. It is an elitist organization with legal powers, so corrupt by definition.

It is not something that is democratic, being only open to those willing to part with 900 quid is akin to being in a gang where they have initiation duties.

Really the BBFC should be censored, the values they expound go against humanity.

As to the movie, well if they are consenting adults then what is the problem?

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Duh!

The fact that people will illegally download it is frankly an absurd reason for approving the film. One might just claim that because people will go and commit robbery anyway, we shouldn't bother locking our homes.

I'm all for free speech, but there is a line that needs to be drawn. Films like this are frankly just playing the 'it's art guv, honest' card in order to make money from sheer shock value and a few people who get their kicks from this kind of thing. The potential moral harm that such productions cause to the easily influenced (both children and stupid people) far outweighs any intrinsic artistic value. Not that there's much of that anyway.

Frankly, I thought 'Saw' was just an excuse to de-sensitise us to violence and rolling around in the worst of humanity's traits. This one goes even further and blantently tries to sell us utter depravity in the name of entertainment. Not really a great thing, is it.

As the Poppies said: Freedom of expression doesn't make it alright.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Duh!

It's not necessarily 'in the name of entertainment' - but then 'entertainment' can be a pretty broad church. Every film produced doesn't have to be lovely or immediately and obviously edifying - nor is every film that includes sexual content intended to be titillating.

I don't know, in this instance, but the point is that a narrow view of these things helps no one.

I am barely awake, though, so I may be entirely incoherent.

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Anonymous Coward

@Sarah re: I don't know much about "art"..

Audition was a weird and fascinating film that touched on some interesting topics, but it lost me somewhere towards the end, and I never really got it, and I never felt compelled to watch it again.

However it was the first film that sprang to mind when I read the article.

Also reminded me of the secretary.

Without knowing the interaction between the two characters you can't judge the film at all.

Another film that springs to mind is Hard Candy. A teenage girl snares and tortures a man she believes to be a peadophile, the mind play involved is amazing, the torture intense.

Again the film Visitor Q. Increadibly gratuitous film, but with alot of very interesting questions and links of violent abuse, mixed with perverse fantasy in a strange and broken family.

MPD Psycho, Although I've only read the Manga, is one hell of a piece of work although reviews of the tv drama seem dissapointing. Following a mad mess of a man through a series of disturbing crimes.

At the end of the day the world is full of strange, horrific, unusual maddness, and by investigating it via academia, serious fiction and, comedy, we discover more about the human animal, and we become more able to deal with problems in society.

Nobody is normal. Life, people, and society are complex.

Everybody has a vice/flaw at some level that can result in a collapse of reality when manipluated correctly.

Compressing it all down to two people in a room, one with power and one without. Now that's something that almost always results in an interesting film, as long as the actors involved are good enough at their roles.

I'm quite curious about the film now...

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Anonymous Coward

@Duh!

Is it done in the name of entertainment though? Or is it an investigation of the mental state? What questions does it ask the viewer? What questions does the viewer ask themselves?

Why is he doing that? Why is she doing this? What is the purpose of that? How can that be the result? Why am I watching this? What is the point? How can people do that? How can people put up with that?

Stupid people view the medium as simple entertainment, however intelligent people are constantly asking themselves questions about complicated material that they take in. Sure sometimes a smart person will watch something to just turn off, other times we watch something horrific to ask a question. Hotel Rwanda is a movie where children are hacked to death with machettes, it is "entertainment" but more importantly it puts forward a vast array of questions.

Unfortunatly your approach to such media appears to be ignorant and self serving, a general view that individuals in society should have their minds and morals protected by the state instead of them investigating issues, fears, and responsibilties themselves.

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Tom
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They know it when they see it...

"Their experience, gained from viewing hundreds of films every year, gives them a very clear insight into what constitutes material that is sexual in nature"

So they can't define it, but they know it when they see it.

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Paris Hilton

Please Clarify?

"Opponents of that law immediately questioned whether the government had not now created an impossible legal position, according to which certain material that was not illegal to possess was nonetheless illegal to publish."

Wasn't that the case before the "extreme porn" law came into force anyway?

Before the "extreme porn" law, there was stuff that was illegal to publish, but not illegal to possess. You seem to be saying that opponents of the "extreme porn" law are pointing out that that's still the case in some cases. Could you clarify this, please?

During the passage of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 through parliament, the government claimed that the "extreme porn" law would cover a narrower range of material than the Obscene Publications Act, and the BBFC seem to agree. (But, of course, claims by the government and the BBFC are not the same as rulings on the law by the courts.) These claims were made in response to concerns that the "extreme porn" law would criminalise possession of material not already illegal to publish under the Obscene Publications Act. (The notorious "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character" part of the Act is central to this particular issue.)

"One last observation by Niki Flynn seems set to cause future mischief. The government, with its legislation on extreme porn, has now put in place a legal system whereby what is not obscene in law if viewed by an individual is obscene if published or put out on DVD. Far from restricting the availability of extreme material, the government may have just undermined existing laws on Obscenity."

That was already the case, but is less the case now, even if it's still the case to some degree. How is that undermining existing obscenity laws?

One of the big criticisms of the "extreme porn" law is that it criminalises possession of entirely private material where the only crime is possession of that material itself. While there's a defence for possession of material in which the possessor is also a participant, there is still that participation requirement, so doesn't work where the possessor was present but not participating in the filmed or photographed acts.

Does Niki Flynn really believe that it should always be a criminal offence to possess material that it's illegal to publish under obscenity laws?

Could you clarify this, please? It sounds like quite the opposite of what I thought was the position of "extreme porn" law opponents.

Paris, because I'm confused, too.

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Linux

James Bond?

Is the scene in Casino Royale where our good ole Daniel Craig is tied to a chair while being blasted in the b*ll*x with a rope classed the same as this then?

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AC@15:36

Hard Candy was the first one that sprang to my mind. Maybe I'm easily panicked but I *very* strongly doubt any man can view it without wishing for some of the training of a Sumo wrestler.

One thing people forget about Secretary is that it is consensual. And then we have "The Night Porter," Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling. Disturbing (disgusting to some) theme and a few incidents that *might* be described as extreme porn (but are not really sexual).

And of course the whole Saw & Hostel series.

All (AFAIK) were released in the UK. I find the behaviour of the BBFCC bizarre.

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I liked the bit in that filum

Where that woman wife tapped off the shins of that writer bloke with one of those big hammer things whilst he was tied up on her bed. Plus she was quality and used an ankle shot. That's got to hurt.

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BBFC vs. IWF

At least we know what the BBFC rejects, and can have some sort of discussion.

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A reply from Niki...

Having known Niki for some time, and indeed worked with her - I was quite excited to see the story here and passed her the link ;-) It's not often my photography and geeknews sides cross over ;-) Anyway - she asked me to post this reply :

"Does Niki Flynn really believe that it should always be a criminal offence to possess material that it's illegal to publish under obscenity laws?"

Most certainly not! I think you must have misread the last part. I am completely opposed to censorship in any form. I believe that what consenting adults get up to should be no one's business but theirs and that, as mature adults, we should be allowed to make up our own minds what we choose to watch or not. I think the BBFC is a hopelessly outdated entity and Paul Talbot's comment way up at the top sums it up their obsolete-ness perfectly.

A friend of mine who spent time in Stasi Germany makes the interesting point that it's countries like the UK that have never known life under a totalitarian regime that have so little regard for personal freedom.

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She wrote a book too

Did you see that Niki Flynn has written a book? According to amazon:

"Niki Flynn is a young woman on a journey into the dark heart of her own sexual fantasies. She is regularly restrained, spanked, caned and whipped in the most notorious adult films of modern times. And she doesn't do it for financial gain. Nor because she's a masochist. Niki Flynn makes extreme adult movies because of her curious and profound love of surrender and punishment. Her desires are all about authority and power in situations when she has none. Where she is at the mercy of others who lack just that. And for the thrill of dread, anticipation, and the euphoria that follows when she admires the marks from the headmaster's cane or the pirate's whip, Niki Flynn is willing to endure torment."

Sadly amazon won't be able to stock NF713 :(

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IT Angle

What's wrong with BBFC's decision?!

How is this film not intended to be a porno?? It sounds like there is no fucking plot development or acting, and niki flynn turns out to be some kind of low-profile bondage starlett (after 3 seconds on google, can't be bothered to delve further). Seems we only know about this whole non-story because they applied to the BBFC for a DVD release. There are about 3 pages on the whole internet about it. The web is awash with pretty extreme (depending on your point of view) bondage stuff. You can pay to download it. I don't see any problem with this stuff not being available on DVD as long as there are still ways to get it for those who want it. So - Jacqi Smith's assault on porn = bad. BBFC rejecting this piss-poor titillating drivel = fine by me.

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Linux

Why, oh why?

Do people so often think that when the BBFC refuses to classify something (effectively banning it), that this will have no effect - or even become more 'popular'? (E.G. see post #7)

When the BBFC does this, fewer people see it as a result. (A bit like prohibition in the States. OK, it didn't stop alcohol consumption altogether, but it significantly reduced it.)

Freedom of speech is important, but not important enough. There is plenty of rape and sexual violence in the UK, so despite protestations that the film wasn't meant to be sexual, some people would be aroused by the film. This would be bad if it led to copycat behaviour.

Ben Goldacre has written a very interesting (and relevant) article on copycat suicides: http://www.badscience.net/2009/03/suicide/#more-1061.

There is the same effect when newspapers report on mass killings (eg Columbine). As the gore and sensationalism increases in the report, the chances of another massacre happening in the next few days goes through the roof.

Why the avatar of the penguin? Because all the best extreme porn features a bit of penguin. (And no Paris.)

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Dances with Werewolves ??

Julia White wrote:

Did you see that Niki Flynn has written a book?

etc.

"Dances with Werewolves"? What's that about? Doesn't sound like a porn title. And it claims to be a memoir.

Published by Virgin Books, who are a mainstream publisher. Pretty good reviews too. Looks interesting.

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Joke

BBFC calls it a sex film

NuLabour calls it an internal training film.

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Paris Hilton

On bittorrent in...

3... 2... 1... now.

Streisand Effect FTW.

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@Patrick Bateman

Try visiting your local Art House cinema and watch some of the stuff that is produced that equally has "no fucking plot development or acting," and some of which includes nudity.

The question is, simply, *WHY* should the BBFC be entitled to make decisions like this "for our own good" and the answer is that they shouldn't.

PS @ Richard: People have been coming up with post hoc justifications for banning stuff because of "copycat" incidents for a long time now, but that does not prove that the stuff they want banned *caused* the incident, only that there was a similarity in methodology.

And the "chances of another massacre" do not increase, only the chances of such a massacre getting widespread press coverage, hence the "epidemic of knife crime" last year that turned out to be nothing of the sort except for the fact that the media suddenly started making a big deal out of it.

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Undermining the OPA

I gather from comments here and e-mails sent to myself that the question of whether this decision might undermine the OPA is causing some puzzlement. Of course it doesn't do so instantly - and it is quite clear, as has been posted, that the Government did not intend it to do so.

However, the reason for thinking that it might are twofold - and Niki's comment here is merely echoing what I have picked up from lawyers over the last few months.

First, the whole area of Obscenity, indecency, etc is becoming so convoluted that it is becoming ever harder to pick one's way through it. There is a ruling to the effect that ordinary people "ought to know" what is indecent: but the time may be coming when a serious challenge to that will be made.

Compare and contrast the legal position in New Zealand where one set of laws sets out the state's position on pretty much all proscribed speech and imagery.

Second, this is about a tactical argument. Of course the situation previously was that one could possess what it was illegal to publish. However, the point it that possession was previously unlegislated.

Now it is legislated: the government has just passed laws on the subject. Therefore, in a court, when the prosecution is attempting to convince a jury that a particular item has a tendency to deprave and corrupt, a counter-argument that could be introduced is: the government has just legislated; the government says it is permissible for an individual to possess this item; surely no-one believes that the government would say it was OK for an individual to possess an item that would tend to deprave and corrupt them.

So on the surface, the situation has not changed at all. Beneath the surface, it may have.

Moreover, this argument is likely to have more political traction than the previous situation, where possession was not legislated over, but publication was.

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stu
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Why the surprise ?

The BBFC has always been about 'protecting the unwashed masses', not educated people like you and me.

I'm not saying that is right.. however look at the shitstorm the likes of the SUN can kick off about things - they are sheep.

the decline in art house cinema (the 'permitted' place for such films to be shown to the more 'educated punter') has left the BBFC with no alternative channel with which to only reach the educated gentile..

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Flame

Bee Movie

It wasn't seeing it on TV that first gave me the idea of putting an aerosol and a lighter together - it was the words "Keep away from naked flames" written on the side.

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