Goodbye censorship, now is the age of “auto-classification”
- A new commission will evaluate the correct classification of works by producers or distributors based on the four sections outlined in the 2016 Cinema Law of Italy
Many have wondered what the "abolition of cinematographic censorship," announced by the Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini, really means, after his signature of the decree establishing the Commission for the classification of cinematographic works, whose task is to verify the correct classification of cinematographic works by operators.
With the establishment of this commission to replace the review commission — based on the model used in France — it will no longer be possible to prohibit the release of a work in theaters or on TV, or to impose cuts and changes. The commission will only evaluate the correct classification of the work by the production, which will in charge of "labeling" its film according to the four sections outlined in the 2016 Cinema Law: works for all, works not suitable to children under the age of 6, works prohibited to minors under the age of 14, works prohibited to minors under the age of 18. A classification, as stated in the legislation, which is proportionate to the needs of child protection and the protection of minors, with particular regard to the sensitivity and development of the personality of each age group and respect for human dignity.
The new commission is chaired by Alessandro Pajno, President emeritus of the State Council, and 49 members, of which 14 were chosen among "university professors in law, lawyers, magistrates assigned to positions at the juvenile court, administrative magistrates, state lawyers and parliamentary advisers;” seven chosen from experts in “pedagogical-educational aspects related to the protection of minors,” another seven “from university professors of psychology, psychiatry or pedagogy, pedagogists and professional educators;” seven other “sociologists with particular expertise in social communication and in childhood and adolescent behaviour,” seven “designated by the most representative parents' associations;” four from the cinematographic field and three “designated by the most representative animal protection associations.”
The small number of members with strictly cinematographic skills is worrying to some, and now that the classification is up to producers and distributors, one wonders who will guarantee that the former state censorship does not turn into self-censorship, as producers and distributors try to preempt any conflict with the commission that must verify the adequacy of their choices.
According to libertarian and anarchist master of eros Tinto Brass, who has fought against censorship for his entire artistic career, (he is now 88 years old, and 29 out of 30 of his films are censored), "as long as there is a commission that decides on the classification of works and establishes prohibitions for viewing a film, even if only on the basis of age, little will change in substance, because that system of checks and interventions from the powers that be will continue to affect the freedom of artists, which has always been and continues to be the most important thing for me.” The last relevant case of censorship of an Italian film dates back more than 20 years: in 1998 was blocked the theatrical release of Totò che visse due volte, directed by Daniele Ciprì and Franco Maresco, which was considered to be a film "degrading to the dignity of the Sicilian people, of the Italian world and of humanity,” and which expressed “contempt for religious sentiment.”
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