Film Censorship: I Want Your Love (2012)





I Want Your Love

Directed by Travis Mathews  / 2012 / USA / IMDb

In February 2013, I WANT YOUR LOVE was refused a film festival exemption after the Classification Board concluded that it would likely be passed with as X18+ if it were submitted for a rating.

It had been programmed to screen in February at Sydney's Mardi Gras Film Festival, in March at Melbourne's Queer Film Festival, and in April at Brisbane's Queer Film Festival.

The previous film from Travis Mathews was IN THEIR ROOM: BERLIN (2011). In February 2012, this was also refused film festival exemption by Classification Board.


Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival
I Want Your Love
Date: 20 - Feb - 2013
Venue: Dendy, Newtown
Time: 9:30 pm

Date: 23 - Feb - 2013
Venue: Cinema Paris, EQ
Time: 9:00 pm

Screening Cancelled Due to Classification Ruling Replacement Screening: OUT IN THE DARK

Latest News
February 20, 2013
OUT IN THE DARK screening tonight in replacement of I WANT YOUR LOVE
Come and see Out in the Dark screening in replacement of I Want Your Love tonight, Wednesday 20th Feb at 9.30pm at Dendy Newton. Ticket Holders for I Want Your Love just need to bring their original tickets for this screening.



Melbourne Queer Film Festival
I Want Your Love

Sat 16 Mar 8:15 PM Cancelled
Fri 22 Mar 11:59 PM Cancelled

The debut feature from Travis Matthews is a breath of fresh air in queer cinema. Instantly notorious for its depiction of real sex on screen, the film displays an immediacy and authenticity in capturing the lives of a group of San Franciscans at a moment of significant change in their lives.

The MQFF are disappointed to announce that the 2 sessions of Travis Mathews' film I Want Your Love have been refused exemption from Classification by Classification Australia, meaning that the MQFF have been banned from screening the film. The Classification Board have refused the film because they state that it contains explicit sex scenes without the narrative context to support the sex scenes, and if the film were to be classified it would be given an X rating and therefore not available for the sorts of exemption processes the MQFF follow each year. The MQFF disputes that reading of the narrative of I Want Your Love and insists that the sex is in context with the narrative.

We're shocked that Classification Australia have taken this path. I Want Your Love has screened to critical acclaim at dozens of festivals around the world. Australia is the first film festival to have it banned. We're sorry our audience won't be able to make up its own minds about adult content.

The Saturday March 16 session of I Want Your Love has been replaced by Out in the Dark (booking code 3158). The midnight March 22 session of I Want Your Love has been replaced by Peaches Does Herself (booking code 6176).



Gay sex too much for Australian film censor, February 22, 2013

Melbourne Queer Film Festival director Lisa Daniel says that in her 15 years at the festival, I Want Your Love is the first film that has been refused an exemption. It has been seen in many festivals around the world, and its distributors have told her this is the first time it has been banned. Mathews is a well-known filmmaker, and the decision is an embarrassment for Australia, she says.

Jain Moralee, director of Queer Screen, said she was very disappointed that she would be unable to show the work. The sex scene, she says, is a six-minute montage of friends, housemates and partygoers that is part of the narrative context of the film. She describes Mathews as a filmmaker who explores the line between narrative and documentary.



Overturn the "refused exemption" status of the film I Want Your Love
Petitioning Ms Lesley O'Brien
Director Australian Classification Board
Petition by Grant Scicluna Melbourne, Australia. February 23, 2013

To: Ms Lesley O'Brien - director, Australian Classification Board

We the undersigned believe that your decision to refuse a "film festival exemption" for Australian queer film festivals to screen Travis Mathews' film, I Want Your Love, is wrong.

I Want Your Love shows us the modern gay experience with intimacy and frankness. It has a level of reality that is refreshing and reflects what life is really like for many gay men. Honest, intimate depictions of gay love and sex do not harm us to see. I Want Your Love shows love and sex between happy, healthy and consenting gay men. While it contains actual sex, it is shown within a non-violent, intelligent and artistic narrative. This element is therefore not gratuitous and should not form a reason why it should be refused exemption from classification.

We believe there is no reason why this film should not be shown to a paying adult audience within the context of curated film festivals. I Want Your Love has screened at every major queer film festival in the world and is getting a DVD release in the United States this month. We ask you to reflect on why we are the only country in the world to refuse its citizens the right to see it?

In light of this, we ask you to overturn the refused exemption from classification status of the film I Want Your Love.



Queer film won’t be getting any love at MQFF, February 25, 2013

MQFF Director Lisa Daniel told MCV that the festival had not received written communication from the board on the film’s outcome, but has received verbal confirmation from board officers.

She said MQFF believed that the belief held by the board is that I Want Your Love’s narrative context is not strong enough to support the sexually explicit scene and as a result, has been identified as an 18+ X classification.

“I think it’s embarrassing for us as culturally forward thinking country to consider this film X-rated," she said.

The Australian Classifications Board’s Director, Lesley O’Brien told MCV in a statement that I Want Your Love was not awarded an exemption because it believed it would be inconsistent with its Film Festival Guidelines.

“In this case, the film contains detailed and prolonged scenes of actual explicit sexual activity, such that it is likely to fall within the parameters of the X 18+ category if it were classified.”

Within the statement, O’ Brien also said that the film could still be submitted for commercial classification.



This film's too sexual for our cinemas. Why?, March 1, 2013

The director of MQFF Lisa Daniel has called the censor’s decision “outrageous" and tells Same Same it has left her “furious". She believes the censor is following an “archaic ritual" and that their decision made her the laughing stock of film festival directors around the world.

In response to our detailed questions, Australian Classification Board Director Lesley O’Brien explained her decision to not exempt Matthews’ film saying it “was not granted an exemption because to have done so would have been inconsistent with the Film Festival Guidelines.

Explaining that X-Rated films were not allowed played at Film Festivals, O’Brien said it was her view “that if classified, I Want Your Love would be likely to be classified X 18+ Restricted because it contains detailed and prolonged scenes of actual explicit sexual activity."

O’Brien did not directly respond to our question about why vivid, penetrative male/female sex acts have been granted exemptions before, but in other responses, she indicated that the Guidelines gave her no discretion to allow this type of content.



James Franco addresses banning of film I WANT YOUR LOVE, March 4, 2013

Filmmaker James Franco speaks directly to Australian Classification Board about their decision to ban the feature, I WANT YOUR LOVE, even from an adult viewing audience.

Franco recently collaborated with this film's director, Travis Mathews, on a film that explores sex as a story-telling tool in addition to censorship and personal, sexual and creative boundaries, INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR.



Online move to bypass gay sex film 'ban', March 7, 2013

The producer of "banned" gay sex film I Want Your Love has defied the Australian censors, claiming the movie's global release on Monday via web-based video-on-demand services represented a way "to bypass the gatekeepers" and render them irrelevant.

The decision also prompted the director of the Mardi Gras Film Festival, Jain Moralee, to question if the board was guilty of "double standards", having classified the sexually explicit Michael Winterbottom film Nine Songs R18+ in 2005, allowing it to be distributed in mainstream cinemas.

It was certainly too explicit for the Australian censor, which declined to grant an exemption to the film on the basis that had the film been submitted for classification – a process that costs a minimum of $2180 for a film of 61-120 minutes – it would have been classed as an X18+ title. That would mean it could be sold or exhibited only in the ACT or Northern Territory.

A decision is still pending on the application from the Melbourne Queer Film Festival for exemption but it is unlikely to differ from the first ruling.

That may be bad news for the festival and its patrons. But for a distributor looking to let the world know his film is available on the internet, it's the best sort of publicity imaginable.



Complaints to the Classification Board

Classification Board Annual Report 2012-2013
Exemptions To Show Unclassified Films and Computer Games

During 2012–13, the Director finalised 609 applications for exemption to publicly exhibit unclassified films and computer games at film festivals and special film and computer game events.

The Director refused an exemption for four films in the reporting period. One film [I WANT YOUR LOVE] was refused an exemption to be exhibited at two separate film festivals. The other three films were refused exemptions to be exhibited at different film festivals. There were 475 applications finalised in the previous reporting period.


Classification Board Annual Report 2012-2013
Film Festivals

During 2012–13, the Director finalised 609 applications for exemptions to publicly exhibit unclassified films and computer games at film festivals and special film and computer game events. Fifty-three complaints were received in relation to film festivals in the reporting period.

Twenty-nine complaints were about the film, I Want Your Love. This film was not granted an exemption to be screened at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival and the Melbourne Queer Screen Festival as it was the view of the Director that to grant an exemption from classification for it to be shown would be in breach of the Film Festival Guidelines.



Uncut and 18-rated in the UK

In June 2013, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) awarded I WANT YOUR LOVE am 18-rating. They also provided the following extended classification information.

Approved Running time: 68m 21s
BBFCInsight: Contains strong real sex
Cut: This work was passed uncut.

I WANT YOUR LOVE is a US drama about a man who is forced to leave San Francisco because he can no longer afford to live there. On his last night in the city, friends and ex-lovers organise a leaving party which causes him to reflect on his life. It is rated 18 for strong real sex.

There are a number of scenes in which men engage in real sexual activity, including masturbation, fellatio and ejaculation. Although some of the sexual acts are presented explicitly, the film is a relationship drama rather than a work whose primary purpose is sexual arousal.

The film also contains several uses of strong language ('f**k'), strong sex references, and drugs references.

No-one younger than 18 may see an 18 rated film in the cinema. No-one younger that 18 may rent or buy an 18 rated video or DVD.



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