Council invokes film ban on local festival and prompts censorship debate

A scene from Shadows...

A DISCUSSION on censorship by Thurrock Council has been sparked after the authority banned two films set to be shown in a borough movie festival.

The Thurrock International Celebration of Film, which the council has been extensively promoting on its own websites for some time – kicks off tomorrow (Thursday).

Over the coming four days a number of films from various counties will be shown in the borough, but the organisers were stunned to hear that council is belatedly refusing them permission to screen two of the planned films.

One of the festival organisers is Hi Ching, who explained what has happened.

He says: “Thurrock Council have banned the films Jungle Love (Philippines, 2012) and Shadows Of Fiendish Ancestress And Occasionally Parajanov On Durian Cialis (Lesser #9) (Singapore, 2017) from being screened at the TIC Film Festival at Thameside Theatre, Grays, Thurrock, because “an initial assessment suggests both films would be rated R18” and therefore “can only be shown in licensed sex premises”.

“The decision has outraged the East Asian communities.

“In both films, sexuality does indeed play a central role, but the BBFC [British Board of Film Classification] explanatory notes state that the 18R rating is normally intended for works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation of the viewer. These two films do anything but – and moreover, a rating of suitable only for 18 years and over was already in place in order to make sure that only adults would be able to see these films.

“Both films are banned in their countries; Jungle Love in the Philippines and Shadows in Singapore. But both films have been screened at other film festivals around the world. One reviewer summed up that “Jungle Love” accomplishes the nearly impossible task of turning what could be a lewd and perverted showcase into a mirror of our innate desire to venture into the unknown, to abandon the clutches of good taste, and to get lost in the limitless jungle where men are but beasts among other beasts.”

“By banning these two films, Thurrock Council have the dubious honour of joining these two countries and doing exactly what they have done: performing censorship and stifling discussion. Both films require serious discussion about opportunities and limits of filmic representation of sexuality – but with its decision, Thurrock Council tried to make such a discussion impossible.

“The TIC Film Festival organising team have decided to use the free time created by Thurrock’s decision to ban these two films for an extended public discussion of censorship – not only in Southeast Asia as was originally intended, but in Britain as well.

“We have invited members of the Council to take part in this decision and explain their decision.”

The Thurrock Independent contact Thurrock council and asked it to comment, but no response has been received. We waited a full working day for a response, before publishing this story.

The discussion on censorship will take place Friday, 7 September from 5 pm onwards, at the Thameside Theatre, Orsett Road, Grays.

You can find out more about the film festival here.

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