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'City of censorship' bans sexy film

CANTERBURY has been branded the city of censorship after a sexually-explicit film was banned by a council officer.

The Pornographer, a French drama about a 1970s erotic film director who tries to make a comeback in today's world of hardcore porn, was scheduled to be shown today (Thursday) on the launch day of the Kent International Film Festival at Cinema 3 at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Kent University.

The film, said to be a thoughtful work which takes a harsh look at French politics and society, won an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was shown at the London Film Festival without problems. But Canterbury City Council environmental health officer Roger Vick decided not to give the film a temporary licence because of a 20-second graphic sex scene.

Film festival chairman Derek Malcolm said the decision made the council appear "a little bit backward". He said festival organisers selected films carefully and would not choose a deliberately pornographic movie.

"If the council is striving to be European capital of culture this is not the way of going about it," he said. "They should think very carefully before they start censoring films for a festival. Art can be controversial at times and we thought this was a good film."

Council press officer Rob Davies said the council was sticking closely to guidance from the British Board of Film Classification not to give the film a licence unless the offending 20 seconds were cut.

But Sue Clark, the board's head of communications, denied that this advice would have been given. She said the Cinema Act 1985 gave local authorities the power to licence films and that the BBFC only classified them on behalf of councils.

"They have carte blanche to do what they like - but Canterbury might have taken the pragmatic view that, if we have not finished considering the matter, then they would not give it a certificate," she said.

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