Secretary of Internal Affairs
and copy for Mr Owen Davie
Secretary, Film & Lierature Board of Review
Additional Comments Relevant to Society’s Proposed Lower Classification of the DVD End of the Spear and Formal Application for Leave.
5 February 2008
Further to the information submitted earlier by fax by the Society to the Secretary of Internal Affairs re the Application for Leave, please add the following:
It has come the attention of the Society today that the Film and Video Labelling Body has now approved a new classification of the film End of the Spear (originally classified on 20/12/07 as R16 by the FVLB by [incorrectly] cross-classifying it with the American DVD version) following a submission for a revised classification from the film’s distributor Life Resources Ltd.
The distributor sent an email to the Society today stating:
“Bill Hood has passed the film with a rating of M Medium Level Violence….”
Lime Light Motion Picture Company
1st Floor 320 Manchester Street
Christchurch (Life Resources Building)
8142 New Zealand
The Society contends that this reclassification should be taken into account by the Secretary in his decision on granting leave to the Society in its application relating to the DVD version classified by the OFLC as R16 (OFLC Ref No. 702607).
A number of films in the Xena Warrior Princess series contain lengthy depictions of “medium level violence” involving the deaths of combatants and injuries and mutilation inflicted on others. These publications have been classified unrestricted – M – recommended for mature audiences 16 years of age and over, by the Film and Video Labelling Body (FVLB). They have not been referred by the FVLB to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) for classification because nothing in the film has been considered injurious to the public good. The FVLB has given these films description notes: “Contains medium level violence”. These films are all infested with relentless violence, for the purpose of entertainment.
The Console Game Xena Warrior Princess was referred to the OFLC by the FVLB and was classified “Unrestricted: Suitable for mature audiences 16 years of age and over”, with the description note: “Contains violence” (OFLC Decision 9902349). Young people playing this game are exposed to lengthy repetitive sessions of “violence” involving combatants weilding weapons and inflicting grievous bodily harm.
The film Once Were Warriors was classified RP15 by the OFLC which allows any child under 15 years of age to view the film if accompanied by an adult or guardian. The brutal violence and cruelty depicted is recognised as relentless, of high impact and accompanied by vulgar and offensive language. The censor’s description states: “Contains violence”.
The Society (SPCS) contends that, in the light of the above classifications (many others could be cited) to restrict the DVD – End of the Spear – to those persons 16 years of age and over, is an unjustifiably harsh classification that is an assault on the principle of freedom of expression embodied in the Bill of Rights Act.
The harsh classification involves a failure by the OFLC to properly apply Section 3 of the Films, Videos and Publications Classificaton Act 1993. The Society agrees with the OFLC that the overwlelming impact of the film comes from its sensitive depiction of an epic story that highlights the themes of Christian faith, forgiveness, reconciliaton and Christian love. The latter is motivated by the missionaries’ passion to see a tribe on the verge of extinction – through violence – find the truth of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – which brings peace as one of its many fruits. The depiction of inter-tribal fighting and the murder of the missionaries, is integral to the telling of the true story and none of its presentation is gratuitous.
Kevin Costner’s 1990 epic film Dancing With Wolves which received a number of Oscar nominations, was classified “M” (unrestricted) – suitable for those 16 years of age and over – by the Film and Video Labelling Body, with the description: “Contains Violence”. This film contains many graphic scenes involving the slaughter of Indians by whitemen, graphic scenes of the mass slaughter of buffaloes and other animals, cruel and brutal slayings of white men by Indians including grapic scenes of scalping and other atrocities. One scene involving mass carnage leaves the river red with blood and human corpses.
If such a film as Dancing With Wolves, of great historical significance, has been made available to NZ young people for cinema viewing and home viewing (DVD and video), then it is very hard to contemplate how the Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, his deputy Nicola McCully, a Classification Officer and a Senior Classification Officer, could possibly have reached the view that the film End of the Spear could possible warrant a R16 classification.
The CO and SCO signed their “actions” off, involving the classification process of this film, on 9/11/07. The SCO affirmed the recommendation on 12/11/07. The CO prepared the documents on 12/11/07 and the SCO/DCC/CC classified and signed the documents on 13/11/07. The DVD version of the film – End of The Spear – was registered as classified on 14/11/07.
The Society believes that many Christian parents and guardians as well as others, familiar with the story behind the film, would be keen to have their children aged 13-15 view the film. Parents are the best persons to assess whether of not their childrren are mature enough to view such a film which has received classifications in the US and Australia allowing those younger that 16 years to view it.
Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.