The Ontario Film Review Board, in an unprecedented move, has banned Catherine Breillatâ€™s FAT GIRL in the province by refusing to rate the film and therefore preventing the film from being theatrically released. The board cited several scenes in the film which contain teenage nudity and sexual interaction and are demanding roughly 15 minutes of cuts before the film is approved.
Co-distributors Cowboy Pictures and Lions Gate Films have refused to cut the film, and they are appealing the boardâ€™s decision. “This decision has shocked us,” said Cowboy Pictures Co-President Noah Cowan. “The censor has decided that there are images too graphic to be seen by the people of Ontario. As part of our appeal, we will point out to the board that the images contained in the film are no more or less graphic than those in Larry Clarkâ€™s films KIDS and BULLY, passed without cuts, or in Sam Mendesâ€™ AMERICAN BEAUTY and Adrian Lyneâ€™s LOLITA. We are also soliciting support from well-known Ontario-based literary and cinema figures to write letters in support of our appeal.”
In a letter to the Ontario Film Review Board, Catherine Breillat states, “I am in a daze to have just learned about the Ontario Film Review Boardâ€™s decision to censor my most recent film FAT GIRL. Iâ€™m am even more shocked in the context of my earlier film, 36 FILLETTE, which is available in Toronto now. 36 FILLETTE also portrays the first sexual experience of a 14-year-old on holiday; it is a film that deals with the subject of adolescence in similar ways to FAT GIRL. Unlike my previous film, ROMANCE, I made a choice to not show one single explicit sexual scene in FAT GIRL: the film is only forbidden to those under the age of 12 in France, whereas ROMANCE is forbidden to those under the age of 16.”
FAT GIRL, now in theatrical release across the US, recently received critical acclaim at the New York Film Festival, where critics and intellectuals heralded the film as a brilliant cinematic triumph and part of Franceâ€™s “Second Wave”.
Above all, they praised Breillat for her feminist portrayal of two teenage sisters who are awakened to the realities of sexual rites of passage in contemporary society. Stephen Holden of the New York Times calls Catherine Breillat “Franceâ€™s most impassioned correspondent covering the war between the sexes.”
The Ontario Film Board has not taken such action since the early 80s, when they banned other critically acclaimed films such as Louis Malleâ€™s PRETTY BABY and Volker Schlondorffâ€™s THE TIN DRUM. The film has been approved by all other review boards around the world, including the neighboring province of Quebec and the usually strict censors in the United Kingdom.
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