Toronto
2 min

How embarrassing are they?

DESCENT. A threat to Canadian values or a victim of petty bureacracy? Credit: Image by Xtra files

The Ontario Film Review Board has a great amount of power. We’ve collected a short list of what artists and entrepreneurs call the OFRB’s recent SNAFUs.



• Lisa Steele, anti-censorship activist and art teacher at the Ontario College Of Art And Design: “The French film Baise-Moi (Rape Me) was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival but was banned for viewing in Ontario mid-November. It’s the first time in a long time that a full feature film has been banned. Pretty Baby and Tin Drum were banned in the ’70s, which made Ontario the laughing stock of the world. This summer a poster for an Israeli film was banned by the OFRB. They control advertising, posters and

newspaper ads, and because its power is so undefined, they can ban or cut at will.”



Baise-Moi tells the story of two women who were raped… and who take their revenge.



The OFRB also recently banned documentarian Ron Mann’s marijuana film Grass. The decision was eventually reversed.



Says Steele: “The Ontario Censor Board is now called the Ontario Film Review Board for a softer image. It’s power is so undefined, they can ban or cut at will. The queer community bears the brunt of censorship. This is economic interference and discriminates against smaller institutions. I will fight forever to remove the Censor Board from its powers.”



• Derek Vincent, manager of Review Video (on the Danforth): “We were visited recently by the OFRB for showing the poster for Yana’s Friend, an Israeli film. We covered up the poster so that most of it wasn’t showing. They came back a week later to check. Because we don’t sell porn, we don’t normally see them. But the sticker is a red herring, and many stores rent and sell unstickered videos.”



The poster showed a vague image of nudity.



• Sarah Forbes-Roberts, co-owner of the sex shop Come As You Are: “Come As You Are was visited three times by the OFRB in the last year alone. [We] received a fax one week before participating in the Everything To Do With Sex Show [a sex consumer show at the CNE grounds] reminding us about the rules around stickering videos in Ontario, as if we might have forgotten.”



It was the fourth “contact” with the OFRB this year.



• Bob Loblow, employee of Suspect Video: “The OFRB visits once a year or less, and they always look in the porn section. They pick up things without stickers and I explain that it’s soft porn and they put it back down [and don’t charge the store, despite the law]. They told us not to rent The Faces Of Death videos, which are cheesie ’70 real life (supposedly) death scenes. But in recent years there’s much worse stuff released. They have a baffling way of operating. The OFRB is an outdated dinosaur which doesn’t do people any good.”



• Carlyle Jansen, owner of the small book and sex store Good For Her: “Videos made for our community tend to come from small producers and distributors. They show women with different body types and sizes, women of colour, butch or androgenous women, women without silicone implants. The community has had a hard time accessing such material. Mainstream distributors don’t carry marginal videos, and so small businesses must pay for stickers [the OFRB product marker] which makes they system discriminative against the LGBTQ community. There should be equal access to all communities.”