Vancouver
1 min

Censors to get tougher?

Government meeting worries Out On Screen

More censorship? Drew Dennis fears the BC Film Classification Office wants to increase red tape following its embarrassing August harassment of a documentary about censorship of Vancouver's gay bookstore. Credit: Xtra West files

It was hardly reassuring, says Drew Dennis of the Sep 24 meeting Out On Screen (OOS) had with the BC Film Classification Office (FCO).



The director of Vancouver’s queer film festival was hoping to focus more on the FCO’s attempts to interfere with some of this summer’s screenings. But that didn’t happen.



The FCO seemed more inclined to brush it all under the rug and move forward, Dennis says.



But Dennis isn’t ready to move forward. She wants to make sure the government classification branch is held accountable for its actions.



“We definitely felt dissatisfied [with the meeting],” she says, adding that Out On Screen has asked for a follow-up meeting to try again.



Elaine Ivancic, the director of the film classification office, says she would be happy to meet again and hopes to do so within the next few weeks.



In the meantime, Dennis is also concerned about the direction the FCO may be planning to take in the future.



Rather than reducing government involvement, the FCO seems poised to increase its regulation of the province’s film festivals and the movies they show, Dennis says.



In the past, film festivals such as OOS have only had to apply once for exemption from the government’s regular screening and classification process. Now, it looks like the FCO may require the festivals to re-apply annually.



That level of government intervention sets off alarm bells for Dennis. Censorship takes many forms, she warns, adding that the FCO also hinted at more stringent licensing requirements for venues showing ‘adult’ films. If that happens, Dennis is worried OOS could lose access to multiplex theatres such as Tinseltown.



Overall, it’s a “heavy-handed” direction Dennis doesn’t want the FCO to take.



Ivancic says Dennis’ concerns are premature. Though she admits that changes to FCO procedure are in the works, she says the exact changes have yet to be decided.



But, she says, the goal is to make the process less-not more-onerous. Still, she admits the FCO is considering ordering festivals to re-apply for exemption every year.



Ivancic says she plans to circulate a policy paper to the film festivals and get their input before finalizing any changes.



Out On Screen is still studying the possibility of filing a complaint against the FCO for attempting to interfere with its screenings in August.