Acclaimed author says banned film must be shown
Amid claims of censorship, multiple award-winning novelist Christos Tsiolkas has thrown his support behind calls for the Australian Film Classification Board (AFCB) to lift its ban on the gay film I Want Your Love which was due to be screened at several major film festivals around the country.
The 71-minute feature film by San Francisco-based director Travis Matthews was planned to be shown at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival next month as well at Queer Screen in Sydney and the Brisbane Queer Film Festival.
The film however was denied an exemption by the AFCB over a six-minute gay sex scene which the Board’s director, Lesley O’Brien, told SX in a statement earlier this week was inconsistent with its Film Festival Guidelines.
“In this case, the film contains detailed and prolonged scenes of actual explicit sexual activity, such that it is likely to fall within the parameters of the X 18+ category if it were classified,” she said.
A Change.org petition created in response to the ban has now attracted the attention of Tsiolkas – the openly gay acclaimed author of The Slap and Loaded and winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize – who has called the AFCB’s decision “gutless, parochial and shameful” and said it was outrageous in 2013 that a film was being banned for sexual content.
“It is even more dangerous and distressing that clearly the ban arises from the homophobic and anti-sex positions of Board members,” he said.
“So this is not only a silly and small-minded decision but it is also an undemocratic and malevolent decision.”
The petition, which has attracted about 2,000 signatures already, was started by film director Grant Scicluna, who heard of the ban in media reports late last week.
“There is no reason why this film should not be shown to a paying adult audience within the context of curated film festivals,” Scicluna said.
“I Want Your Love has screened at every major queer film festival in the world and is getting a DVD release in the United States this month. Why are we the only country in the world to refuse its citizens the right to see it?”
In a statement in support of the petition, Matthews said the controversy was much larger than simply his one film.
“It’s an issue of censorship and free speech. I’ve screened this film in dozens of countries around the world and never has it been banned,” he said.
“I hope that you'll consider how this reflects on your country and reconsider the manner and scope of your entire classification system.”
To sign the petition, click here.
- Tags: Blaze, Brisbane Queer Film Festival, Censorship, Film, Grant Scicluna, Lesley O'Brien, MCV, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Queensland Pride, Queer Film, Queer Screen, SX, Travis Matthews