Film Censorship: A Serbian Film (2010)


 

 

 

 

A Serbian Film

aka Srpski Film

Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic / 2010 / Serbia / IMDb

In November 2010, a 99m DVD of A SERBIAN FILM was banned by the Classification Board. The reason given was high impact sexualised violence, some of which was linked to themes of paedophilia and child sexual abuse. Accent Film Entertainment was the applicant.

 

 

November 2010: A SERBIAN FILM - Uncut version

Thanks to Accent for this copy of the Classification Board's report

 

Australian Government
Classification Board

Reason For Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board's view this film warrants an 'RC' classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the films table of the National Classification Code:

"1. Films that:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified;" will be Refused Classification.

The Guidelines state that "the impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high". In addition, within the R 18+ classification category, the Guidelines stipulate: "Sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context." Therefore, material which is very high in viewing impact or which contains explicit depictions of sexual violence is not permitted within the R 18+ classification.

In the opinion of the Board, the film contains depictions of sexualised violence and sexual violence which have a very high degree of impact, including an explicit depiction of sexual violence. These depictions are on occasion inextricably linked to themes of paedophilia and child sexual abuse, which further heightens impact. Examples include (with approximate times):

 

At 55 minutes, two males (Milos and pornographic director Vukmir) watch a video played through a projector. The video commences with a nude pregnant female lying on a table in a chamber with her legs splayed. A bald male with gloves on assists in the delivery of her baby, which is explicitly depicted. At 56 minutes, the male holds the newborn up by its ankles and slaps its buttock, whereupon the child begins to cry. In rear-view, the male's body obscures detail as he implicitly penetrates the child with his penis in a lingering depiction. The baby cries as the mother watches while smiling. At 57 minutes, a disgusted Milos runs away as Vukmir calls out that he has just viewed "newborn porn".

 

At 63 minutes, a fully nude female is led to a bed and, spreadeagled on her belly, is forcibly cuffed by her wrists and ankles. At 64 minutes, Milos (implicitly drug-affected) is undressed and positioned behind her. He engages in realistically simulated rear-entry sexual intercourse with her. Through his earpiece, Milos hears Vukmir yell that the female is a "dirty junkie cunt". Vukmir commands, "Hit the bitch!" In a frenzy, Milos continues to thrust aggressively while explicitly slapping, and then forcefully punching, the female's back. Bruising appears on the female's back in immediate post action visuals. At 65 minutes, as intercourse continues, Milos is handed a machete and, through a succession of detailed depictions, implicitly hacks the female's head off. Blood and gore noted. As a large bloodstain spreads across the sheets, Milos continues thrusting vigorously behind the headless female's corpse before being pulled away by two males.

 

At 71 minutes, a nude female kneels with her wrists cuffed above her head. What are implied to be her teeth lie on the floor in a pool of blood. Her bloody toothless mouth is depicted along with her bloodstained chest. A masked male approaches and implicitly inserts his penis into her mouth. In prolonged close-ups, he is then depicted explicitly forcing what appears to be his erect penis into her mouth as she appears to gag. At 72 minutes, her eyes bulge and roll back in her head as she implicitly dies.

 

At 84 minutes, an adult figure and a smaller figure lie rear nude on a bed, apparently semi-conscious, with sacks over their heads. Milos (implicitly drug-affected) positions himself behind the smaller figure and, with apparent effort, implicitly guides his erect penis into the figure's anus. The figure's legs protrude from beneath Milos as he thrusts and engages in implied rear-entry anal intercourse. At 85 minutes, a masked male positions himself behind the adult figure. Milos and the masked male are depicted in front and rear view thrusting as anal intercourse is implied. In rear view, Milos's scrotum is visible as he thrusts, and blood is depicted in a growing smear between the thighs of the smaller figure. At 86 minutes, as rear-entry anal intercourse concludes, it is revealed (to Milos and the viewer) that the masked male is Milos's brother, the prone adult figure Milos's wife and the smaller figure his young son.

 

While the Board acknowledges that a degree of artistic merit and dramatic intent is evident in this fictional film, it is of the opinion that the film (including the examples noted above) is very high in viewing impact and includes an explicit depiction of sexual violence. The film therefore exceeds what can be accommodated within the R 18+ classification and should be Refused Classification pursuant to item 1(a) of the films table of the National Classification Code.

A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the film contains a depiction of explicit sexual violence (noted above at 71 minutes) and the film therefore must be Refused Classification. In the minority opinion, however, the remainder of the film can be accommodated, with restriction to adults, at the R18+ classification category.

 

 

February 2011: A SERBIAN FILM - 97m Censored version

A SERBIAN FILM was censored from 99 to 97m, and resubmitted for rating. In February 2011, this version was also banned. The Classification Board found that the censorship had reduced the impact of some scenes to the upper limit of R18+. However, it still contained scenes of explicit sexual violence and violence, which had a very high degree of impact.

Thanks to Accent for this copy of the Classification Board's report.

 

Australian Government
Classification Board

Reason For Decision:
In making this decision, the Classification Board has applied the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act), the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2005 (the Guidelines).

In the Board’s view this film warrants an ‘RC’ classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the films table of the National Classification Code:

“1. Films that:

(a)depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified;” will be Refused Classification.

The Guidelines state that “the impact of material classified R 18+ should not exceed high". In addition, within the Refused Classification category, the Guidelines stipulate that “offensive depictions of . . . (i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which is excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed” or “(iii) sexual violence” will be refused classification.

The Board notes that this full-length feature has been previously refused classification pursuant to item 1(a) of the films table of the National Classification Code for “depictions of sexualised violence and sexual violence which have a very high degree of impact, including an explicit depiction of sexual violence . . . inextricably linked to themes of paedophilia and child sexual abuse” on the 26/11/2010.

In the Board’s opinion the modified contents on this DVD do not alter this classification, therefore this material should be Refused Classification.

The Board notes that, while modifications have lessened the impact of some scenes to a level which is at the upper limit of the R18+ classification, this film contains depictions of explicit sexual violence as well as prolonged depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact.



Examples include but are not limited to the following:

At approximately 69 minutes, a nude female who is covered extensively with blood, is viewed kneeling with her wrists chained above her head. A nude and masked male approaches the screaming woman and implicitly inserts his penis into her mouth. In a series of close-ups, he is then depicted explicitly forcing what appears to be his erect penis into her mouth. She begins to gag and he then pinches her nostrils closed while continuing to force his penis deep into her mouth. The struggling woman’s eyes bulge and roll back in her head before she implicitly dies, and the scene ends with the man stroking the woman’s hair before her head drops and the camera lingers on her blood-covered bare breasts.

 

At approximately 80 minutes, an extended scene commences with Milos being taken into a large studio with two male figures lying on the blood-stained floor, implicitly dead, a third figure lying on the floor near the door and a video camera set up to film the scene. The scene cuts to a flash back view of the room, clean and with an adult figure and a smaller figure lying rear nude on a bed, apparently semi-conscious, with their upper bodies and heads covered. Milos, breathing heavily and grunting, begins to thrust feverishly implicitly against the buttocks of the adult figure in implied anal intercourse. With Vukmir and his assistants watching and filming, Milos then slows his thrusting, moves across and positions himself behind the smaller figure. Repeatedly grunting and groaning from the effort, Milos struggles to implicitly force his erect penis into the smaller figure’s anus, below screen, and is then viewed implicitly thrusting vigorously implicitly into the buttocks of the small, covered figure.

 

The scene continues and at approximately 82 minutes, a depiction of Milos’ thrusting hips and buttocks over the child-sized lower body is viewed before a masked male enters the shot and positions himself behind the adult figure on the bed. Milos and this second man thrust in unison and, in a long shot, both are viewed side-by-side, implicitly engaged in anal intercourse with the semi-conscious or unconscious figures on the bed. This view is followed by a close-up depiction of Milos’ thrusting hips and buttocks as blood spurts from the anal region of the small figure and smears his thighs. The thrusting, grunting and groaning continue until at approximately 83 minutes, Vukmir reaches out and slowly removes the mask from the second man’s head, and Milos recognises his brother. Vukmir then removes the coverings from the taller figure revealing the beaten face of his wife as his brother implicitly reaches a sexual climax.

 

At approximately 84 minutes, a woman staggers into the room with a short length of metal pipe in one hand and thick blood on her face and chest, and flowing from her groin onto her thighs depicted in close up. Milos launches a savage attack on Vukmir, bashing his head repeatedly onto the concrete floor. Milos’ now conscious wife attacks his brother and is viewed implicitly biting a sizeable piece of flesh from his throat and spitting it onto the floor, before the man is depicted in close up with blood spurting and flowing from his savaged throat. Milos shoots a number of men before being attacked by another, then Milos’ wife picks up a heavy sculpture and, both implicitly and explicitly, repeatedly bashes her rapist’s head with it.

 

At approximately 86 minutes, Milos’ attacker is viewed in close up with a swollen and blackened eye before an extreme close up depiction of Milo’s erect penis being forced deep into the man’s injured eye is viewed. The man struggles before another explicit close up of the penis is viewed, this time fully inserted into the eye socket. Grunting with the effort, Milos withdraws his erect penis and his victim falls to the floor. The scene ends at approximately 87 minutes.

 

Decision:
This film is Refused Classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the films table of the National Classification Code.

 

 

February 2011: Senate inquiry into censorship

In February 2011, the Attorney-General's department made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Classification scheme. Here is what they had to say about A SERBIAN FILM.

 

Senate Inquiry into the Australian film and literature classification scheme
Submission by the Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra
February 2011

Srpski Film

As an example of RC material, on 25 November 2010 the Classification Board classified the film Srpski Film (also known as A Serbian Film) RC (Refused Classification). The film stars one of Serbia's leading actors, Srđan Todorović. Upon its debut on the art film circuit internationally, the film received substantial attention for its graphic depictions of rape, necrophilia, and incest.

While the Board’s decision acknowledged that a degree of artistic merit and dramatic intent is evident in this fictional film, it is of the opinion that the film is very high in viewing impact and includes an explicit depiction of sexual violence. The film therefore exceeds what can be accommodated within the R 18+ classification and was classified RC.

A modified version of the film received an 18 certificate classification in the UK.

On 23 February 2011, the Classification Board classified as RC a modified DVD version of the film.

 

 

April 2011: 96m Censored version rated R18+

In April 2011, a DVD of A SERBIAN FILM was finally passed with an R18+ (High impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence) rating.

The initial submission had run 99m, it was then cut to 97m, before finally being passed in a 96m print. The Classification Board are never accurate with their quoted running times. When the DVD was finally released it was not 96m. but 95:19.

 

 

Accent Film unleashes A Serbian Film this August
Media release
Friday April 8, 2011

Accent Film brings you the most controversial movie event of the year. Having been cleared for release this week with an accompanying R rating by the OFLC Srdjan Spasovjevic’s bravura A Serbian Film will be available to rent and buy this August.

A retired porn actor who desperately needs money in order to support his family is lured by a reclusive millionaire and adult industry producer to give one last performance. So begins one of the most gruelling descents into hell ever committed to film.

It’s a movie that pulls no punches. With hellacious extremities of realistic simulation A Serbian Film explores new zones of discomfort. Various members of audiences at festivals around the world have found themselves being carried out of the screening such is the notorious pedigree of the film’s already fugitive reputation.

“It’s not for the faint of heart…it’s meant to shock and illustrate the horrors of the Yugoslav wars as men, women and children were massacred everyday…” Mike Goodridge noted last month in Screen Daily. “A SERBIAN FILM is a brilliant movie. The very best film that I saw at SXSW 2010..” was the description bestowed upon A Serbian Film by Ain’t it Cool News.

An allegory for the horrors both reported and undocumented during the war in former Yugoslavia during the Milosevic government’s brutal reign of terror, A Serbian Film emanated from lengthy discussions between the director and screenwriter before developing into a “metaphorical vortex,” according to Spasovjevic, “of ideas.”

“Everything is called controversial nowadays,” he told British Empire. “It’s controversial to swear or smoke. Soon it will be controversial to go to church unshaven.”

A Serbian Film marks a watershed moment in contemporary cinema. “Many movies have aimed to portray the darkest recesses of the human imagination,” writes Eric Pape in LA Weekly, “but few have gone as far as A Serbian Film.”

Like Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, before it A Serbian Film showcases the singular artistic vision of a mighty new filmmaking talent. The release is expected to generate debate and excitement among fans of extreme cinematic statements. Accent General Manager George Papadopoulos anticipates the film will stoke up controversy for years to come due to its unflinching visual portrayal of the evil depths of depravity that mankind can descend to under the guise of war.

“While A Serbian Film is known for its notoriety and graphic content, we believe the film has significant artistic merit and is ultimately an indictment of the atrocities committed in Serbia’s recent war-torn conflict,” he says. “It is an important, challenging film that Australian viewers will finally get to see.”

 

 

July 2011: Pre-release publicity

Political parable or perversion?
theage.com.au, July 2, 2011

Only a handful of Australians have seen the uncut version of A Serbian Film, but one who has, former Melbourne International Film Festival director Richard Moore, rejects Spasojevic's claims of artistic seriousness. ''I found it a particularly disgusting piece of work. I do believe in allowing audiences to determine most of the time what they should see. This is beyond the pale,'' Moore says.

He watched it in Cannes last year with a view to screening it in Melbourne, but baulked. ''Anything with young children and all of that stuff you've just got to be very wary of where you tread,'' he says. ''There are enough perverts and weird sadists out there who'll just get off on this sort of material.''

The director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Richard Wolstencroft, has also seen the uncut film, and is in negotiations with its Australian distributor, Accent, to screen the censored version at the festival's opening night next month.

Wolstencroft was slapped with a three-month good behaviour bond and a $750 fine after L. A. Zombie screened at MUFF last year. ''I'm very reticent to play another banned film. I'm going to have to behave myself for a while and just play films the censors say I can,'' he says.

Moore's successor as MIFF director, Michelle Carey, has not seen A Serbian Film, but argues that she - and all Australian adults - deserve the right to do so. ''We've got to empower the audience,'' Carey says. She points out that all kinds of taboo material is easily viewable on the internet. ''People have always made art that offends - I think we're just getting to the pointy end now,'' Carey says.

 

 

July 2011: Classification Board comments and complaints received

RC (Refused Classification)
Films
Classification Board Annual Report 2010-2011

During the reporting period A Serbian Film (also known as Srpski Film) was classified RC. This drama/psychological horror film follows the character Milos, who takes a role in a pornographic film and, not knowing the script, finds himself thrust into a series of nightmarish scenarios which come to threaten his family, his sanity and his life. In the Board’s view this film warrants an RC classification in accordance with item 1(a) of the films table of the National Classification Code (see page 75). In the opinion of the Board, the film contains depictions of sexualised violence and sexual violence which have a very high degree of impact, including an explicit depiction of sexual violence. These depictions are on occasion inextricably linked to themes of paedophilia and child sexual abuse, which further heightens impact.

A modified version of the film was submitted to the Board for classification. The Board notes that, while the modifications lessened the impact of some scenes to a level which is at the upper limit of the R 18+ classification, the film contains depictions of explicit sexual violence as well as prolonged depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact. Again the film was classified RC in accordance with item 1(a) of the films table of the Code.

A further modified version of A Serbian Film was subsequently submitted to the Board for classification. In the Board’s opinion, while the impact of depictions of violence and sexual violence in the film are at the upper limit of the R 18+ category, this modified film no longer contains classifiable elements that exceed a high impact level. The film was therefore classified R 18+ with consumer advice of ‘High impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence’.

 

Correspondence
Complaints
Classification Board Annual Report 2010-2011

The Classification Board received 674 complaints in 2010–11. The Board had received 1,090 complaints in 2009–10.

The films which attracted the most complaints were Snowtown, Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (Salo), A Serbian Film, Piranha, Grown Ups, The Killer Inside Me, and Black Swan.

There were 85 complaints about DVD releases of films. Again, the complaints related to a small number of the titles which comprised the 3,957 classification decisions for films not for public exhibition in 2010–11. This compares with the 91 complaints about films not for public exhibition that were received in 2009–10.

Twelve complaints were received about A Serbian Film (also known as Srpski Film) which was initially classified RC. A modified version was submitted to the Board and this also received an RC classification. A further modified version of the film was submitted and was classified R 18+ ‘High impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence’. Three of the complaints were about the banning of the film. The majority of the complainants, however, were of the view that the film should not be released.

 

 

August 2011: 95:19 censored version banned in South Australia

On August 15th 2011, the South Australian Attorney General announced that A SERBIAN FILM had been banned in that State.

The South Australian Government Gazette
Adelaide, Wednesday, 17 August 2011

ALL PUBLIC ACTS appearing in this GAZETTE are to be considered official, and obeyed as such

CLASSIFICATION (PUBLICATIONS, FILMS AND COMPUTER GAMES) ACT 1995
Declaration under Section 16 (2)

I, JOHN ROBERT RAU, Attorney-General, being the Minister to whom administration of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, is committed, hereby declare in accordance with Section 16 (2) of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, that the classification ‘R18+’ assigned to the film ‘A Serbian Film’ produced by Accent Film Entertainment (96 minutes), shall be ineffective and that the classification assigned to the film in this State, shall be ‘RC’.

Dated 15 August 2011.

JOHN ROBERT RAU, Attorney-General

 

 

Exploitative Film Refused Classification in SA
Government of South Australia
Hon John Rau
Deputy Premier - Attorney-General
Thursday, 18 August 2011

Attorney-General John Rau today announced that the State Government had refused classification to a film due to be released on DVD tomorrow.
Mr Rau has also asked the Federal Government to urgently reconsider its decision to classify the 2010 horror movie, A Serbian Film, as R18+.

He said that even with substantial edits from the original version, A Serbian Film contained numerous disturbing scenes of sexual violence and references to bestiality and paedophilia.

“I was first made aware of this film after a DVD store manager decided to refuse to stock the film in his store,” Mr Rau said.

“I referred the matter to the South Australian Classification Council which advised me that the film should be refused classification. I have also watched the film.

“I am strongly of the opinion that A Serbian Film should not be released at all, and I have asked the Federal Government to take urgent action to reconsider its classification of the film.

“Some of the scenes in the DVD are so depraved that I am not prepared to even describe them in any detail. Suffice to say that some of the most disturbing scenes involve children, including an infant.”

The formal advice from the SA Classification Council was that the film should be refused classification because:

• It has exploitative and offensive depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact.
• It contains exploitative and offensive depictions of sexual violence.
• It contains offensive depictions involving a person who appears to be a child under 18 years.

The council considered whether the film had literary, artistic or educational merit that would justify classification: it decided it did not.

 

 

The South Australian Classification Council explained the process in their annual report.

Annual Report of the South Australian Classification Council
For the Year Ended 30 June 2012

...pursuant to section 16(2) Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (as Amended), the Attorney General requested advice from the Council concerning the classification of 'A Serbian Film'.

Council advised that the film should be Refused Classification because:
1. The film depicts exploitative and offensive depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact, and

2. Exploitative and offensive depictions of sexual violence and

3. It contains depictions involving a person who appears to be a child under 18 years

The Attorney-General classified the film refused Classification for South Australia.

 

 

The relevant section 16(2) details how the Attorney-General could ban A SERBIAN FILM.

South Australia
Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995

Part 3—Classification by South Australian authorities

Division 2—Classification process

16—Classification by Council or Minister

(1) Subject to this section, the Council—

(a) may, of its own initiative, and must, if so required by the Minister, examine a publication, film or computer game for classification purposes;

(b) may classify a publication, film or computer game.

 

(2) If the Minister requires the Council to provide advice as to the classification of a publication, film or computer game—

(a) the Council must provide the Minister with advice as to the classification of the publication, film or game;

(b) the Council may not, unless the Minister otherwise determines, proceed itself to classify the publication, film or game;

(c) the Minister may, after considering the Council's advice as to the classification of the publication, film or game, classify the publication, film or game.

 

(3) Notice of a classification under this section must be published in the South Australian Government Gazette and the classification takes effect on a date specified in the notice or, if no date is so specified, the date of publication of the notice.

 

 

August 2011: The controversy begins

 'Grotesque' film banned day before release date
abc.net.au/news, August 18, 2011

A spokeswoman for Federal Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor says the review will not affect the screening of the film at the Melbourne festival tomorrow night.

John Rau - South Australian Attorney General
"It was grotesque at a number of levels. Exploitative sexual violence, offensive depictions of interactions between children and adults, exploitative behaviour generally of a nature that is so unusual that I can't imagine how any right-thinking person could think that this was something that should be appropriately, legally obtained in South Australia," he said.

"It's not just my opinion, but the opinion of the South Australian Classification Council, that we respectfully disagree with the decision made at a national level in respect to this particular film," he said.

Richard Wolstencroft - Director of Melbourne Underground Film Festival
"I'm against the banning of any film, as long as no-one's actually been hurt," he said.

"I personally think it does cross the line and I literally was not going to play it, but I went, 'No, that's the reason I should play it because that's what I'm about and who am I to judge?'

"Because I would be acting [as] the censor myself and I thoroughly detest that kind of thinking, so even as it made me question it, this film is not illegal and as far as I can tell no-one was hurt in the making of it; it was made legally, so I can't see why the film shouldn't be played."

 

 

SA bans controversial movie A Serbian Film
abc.net.au/pm, August 18, 2011

JASON OM: But it's not just the ending that's disgusted the South Australian Attorney-General John Rau who watched the film.

JOHN RAU: Well revolted as any decent thinking person would be.

JASON OM: The film is set in Serbia and follows an ageing porn star who comes out of retirement and unwittingly ends up working on a snuff film. It's not for the faint-hearted and some of the descriptions on the internet are too graphic for this program.

The film was refused classification a number of times before being edited to fit the R-rating. An uncut version is said to contain scenes involving the rape of a baby.

JOHN RAU: In the version that I have seen that is implied.

JASON OM: You've seen an edited version?

JOHN RAU: I've seen the version which was given a restricted classification by the national body.

JASON OM: Some people might say that adults have the right to view whatever they like; is that the case in this instance?

JOHN RAU: I think we have to accept as a civilised society that adults should be given a fair degree of latitude to do, say and read and observe whatever they wish. However, I don't think any right thinking person accepts that that principle is completely without boundaries.

JASON OM: A Serbian Film is banned in a number of countries, and John Rau thinks Australia should be included. He's written to his Commonwealth and Victorian counterparts. Both were unavailable for comment.

JASON OM: A Serbian Film is banned in a number of countries, and John Rau thinks Australia should be included. He's written to his Commonwealth and Victorian counterparts. Both were unavailable for comment.

RICHARD WOLSTENCROFT: I'm against the banning of any film, as long as no-one's actually been hurt.

JASON OM: In Victoria, the director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival Richard Wolstencroft is getting ready to show a legal version of the film. His festival has been the centre of controversy before.

RICHARD WOLSTENCROFT: I personally think it does cross the line and I literally was not going to play it but I went, no, no, that's the reason I should play it.

JASON OM: Have you had any discussions with the Victorian Government about this film?

RICHARD WOLSTENCROFT: No, no. I mean I had discussions with the censorship board and they are completely fine with me playing it obviously because they passed the cut version. They did say to me, look you are going to play the cut version. And I said you guys relax, you can come down and check, I'm going to play the cut version.

JASON OM: Are you worried that now that South Australia has banned it that there might be moves in Victoria to ban it?

RICHARD WOLSTENCROFT: There might be moves but they've only got 24 hours to affect our screening, because our screening starts tomorrow night. So unless they act tomorrow, we're going to be fine.

JASON OM: If the Victorian Government does seek to stop you from screening it, will you defy that?

RICHARD WOLSTENCROFT: Oh no I wouldn't defy anyone on this film. This film is that controversial. I'm going to toe the line and the authorities on this film, because I don't feel comfortable about it myself.

JASON OM: So if they do…

RICHARD WOLSTENCROFT: If something happens tomorrow to ban it, I'll go along with it. But I doubt anything can happen in 24 hours. But then this is the crazy world of politics and political correctness, so we'll see what happens.

You know you can either dismiss this as over the top torture porn, or you can take into account the origin of this film.

JASON OM: At least one major supplier is refusing to stock DVDs of A Serbian Film in its stores around Australia. The chief executive of JB Hi-Fi Terry Smart has told PM the company disagrees with the R-rating and says the film is not suited to its customers.

MARK COLVIN: Jason Om. And a spokeswoman for the Federal Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor has told PM that the national classification board will review the film's R-rating.

 

 

August 2011: Accent Entertainment responds to John Rau and ABC reports

Here is how Accent Entertainment responded on Twitter to the above ABC news reports.

Twitter: 18 August 2011

@AccentFilms

@leezachariah @abcnews FYI: There are NO BESTIALITY scenes in the film and any reference to child abuse/paedophilia have been edited out.

...we had to cut them as it was refused classification twice.

Sometimes we wish people would see films before judging them. They may be surprised!

"SA Attorney-General said he watched the film after being made aware a DVD store...." Must be pirate uncut since we didn't send screeners!

Unless, of course, Mr Rau has not SEEN our version of the film!

No DVD stock or screeners of #aserbianfilm were sent to SA so interested to see how the SA Attorney General and DVD store saw the film.

SA Att-Gen: "Some of the scenes in the DVD are so depraved that I am not prepared to even describe them in any detail," Ok, yeah, sure!

#ABC_NewsRadio reports: "The film contains references to bestiality and paedophilia." NO IT DOESN'T! Even UNCUT never had bestiality at all!

BTW: We did not send full version of #aserbianfilm to any DVD stores. They were only sent a trailer!

Thanks to everyone for their support regarding A Serbian Film. Pleased to see democracy in action!

 

 

August 2011: 96m censored versions opens MUFF 12

The day after the South Australian ban, A SERBIAN FILM opened the 12th Melbourne Underground Film Festival.

Richard Wolstencroft
Director's Statement
Destroy All Movies and the Anti-Aesthetic

Can a film be inherently evil? Bad on a level not pertaining to its quality but to its essence? These questions are raised by our “Tribute to Serbian Extreme Cinema” on Opening and Closing Night. A Serbian Film and Life and Death of a Porno Gang really push the limit of what is acceptable and permissible in modern day cinema. When I first saw A Serbian Film, distributed by the good people at Accent, I was shocked. It was just after the LA Zombie raid and I was very skittish about going down that path again. Halfway though A Serbian Film, I found myself thinking: “Can I really defend this film as an artwork?” I watched the rest. I still didn’t know the answer. And that is why I have decided to play it—after the censors passed it with a few cuts. It made me uncomfortable and so it will you. We all have the right to see and debate this film.

 

A SERBIAN FILM
Memo × Friday 19 August × 8pm

Life is fucking fucked. That is the premise for A Serbian Film, which it then proceeds to glibly illustrate in half a dozen different ways, many of them literally, as it looks all the while like some sort of so-called torture porn flick. But unlike the Hostel, Captivity and Great American Snuff Film of your choice, A Serbian Film really knows how to ram itself into your psyche and isn’t afraid to force entry into every available orifice in order to do so. To put it bluntly, A Serbian Film is slick and fully sick and you can take that as both a warning and the greatest challenge to see something through to the end credits.

Plot wise A Serbian Film takes on the story of Milos, a porn stud supreme who thought he had retired and was adjusting awkwardly to life at home with the wife and kid when he gets pulled back into the jizz biz with an offer he couldn’t refuse. Or rather he gets taken on by Vukmir a child psychologist and George Michael look-a-like turned custom filmmaker who’s cry of, “Love, art, blood”, leads to the creation of what he calls, “Newborn Porn”.

Since barrelling out of the Balkans last year A Serbian Film has justifiably made a name for itself as a dangerous film. Of course it immediately lends itself to political readings especially with regards to why it exists but the truth is that no matter what your political perspective or film going fetish nothing has prepared you for the aftermath of watching it that could lead to instant apathy towards all films. While that might be a strange way to kick off a filmfest, even MUFF 12, with A Serbian Film there is simply no way you can avoid its steel-capped kick in the head.

** MUFF WARNING: The sickest film we have ever played. You have been warned! **

 

 

August 2011: Christians congratulate John Rau

Movies referred to Classification Review Board
The Australian Family Association
Family Update, Vol.26 No.4 2011

One of the most controversial films in recent years was shown at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in August. The horror film A Serbian Film by Serbian director Srdan Spasojevic has been widely censored and banned from international film festivals. It received an R18+ rating by the Australian Classification Board in April after having been refused classification twice previously. The film contains a scene implying a man is raping a new born baby among other disturbing depictions of extreme sexual violence. It depicts acts of sexual violence and contains references to paedophilia and bestiality.

In May the director of a film festival in Spain was charged with exhibiting child pornography after showing it. Even the Festival director Richard Wolstencroft is reported to have said “ It definitely shocked me. … I don’t know if I can defend it. But we all have the right to see and debate this film.”! The Festival was embroiled in a similar controversy last year when it screened the banned film “LA Zombie” and Mr Wolstencroft was fined $750 and given a three month good behaviour bond. That slap on the wrist obviously did nothing to improve this year’s offerings.

Write to SA Attorney-General to thank him for asking for a review of A Serbian Film.

 

 

August 2011: A SERBIAN FILM: What was censored from the Australian DVD?

On August 19 2011, Accent Entertainment released the censored DVD of A SERBIAN FILM. The actual running time of the film was 95:19.

This version passed by British censor in October 2010 ran 95:20. This had been censored down from an uncut 99:14. Despite the similar running times, Accent confirmed to us that:

...our version is different. As we have our own in-house production facilities, we did our editing. Our cuts are very different to UK version.

The DVD extras are thirty trailers for Accent's other R18+ rated films. These include 9 SONGS (2004) and IRREVERSIBLE (2002), the ratings of which were also challenged by Christians. In both cases, they lost, and the films were released.

 

Critical Dave posted a great review and comparison between the uncut and Australian censored versions. Here are some of his observations.

...the baby-rape scene is cut down to a point where I would almost say it’s more effective. The censored version shows brief scenes of the video that Vukmir and Milos watch, but spends more of its time focussed on Milos’s distressed face as he struggles to comprehend what it is he’s being shown. Also, curiously, they’ve removed the shot of Vukmir shouting “Newborn Porn” as Milos leaves and instead has it play over a shot of Milos walking away from the house. I assume this was done to accomodate the edits to the scene.

Furthermore, much of the violence has been drastically toned down, almost to the detriment of the film’s comprehensibility.

Lejla’s death scene, which originally showed her chained with her hands above her head, naked and covered in blood, teeth pulled out and forced to suffocate around one of Vukmir’s goon’s cock as he rapes her throat, is now instead reduced to a few quick shots of her gagging – it’s easier to stomach (though still unpleasant) but you can barely recognise it as being Lejla, and it doesn’t linger long enough to make you realise she is being killed. It does, in fact, come and go so quickly that it looks like a brief shot of an aggressive blowjob amongst the tapes Milos is rifling through.

The scene in which a drugged-up Milos rapes and beheads a woman is cut down to an almost ludicrous detail, whereas she turns around and screams for her life, before the (censored) film has shown Milos being handed a machete. It comes off as looking like he managed to make it magically appear in the film.

The final rape scene, in which a drugged-up Milos unwittingly assaults his young son as his brother rapes his wife, has been censored to remove the moment where Vukmir reveals that it is in fact Milos’s son. It’s easy to understand why this reveal was taken out, but not only does it not acknowledge Milos’s son as a victim, it also isn’t firmly acknowledged by the remainder of the film that his son has been raped. A less attentive viewer may even interpret the film’s ending as Milos and Marija taking their own lives out of their grief and taking their child with them as they do it.

There are other cuts to the film, but those above are (in my opinion) the most notable.

 

A Serbian Film (2010) - Accent Film Entertainment [au] DVDA Serbian Film (2010) - Accent Film Entertainment [au] DVD MenuA Serbian Film (2010) - Accent Film Entertainment [au] Banner

 

 

August 2011: The controversy continues

The following article appeared two days after A SERBIAN FILM screened at MUFF.

Melbourne Underground Film Festival set to screen disturbing, violent film
heraldsun.com.au, August 21, 2011

The movie's Australian distributor Accent said it had cut three minutes of the most graphic violence from the approved version, but every scene remained in some form.

Accent's George Papadopoulos said the film had artistic merit but was very challenging.

"Any child abuse is horrendous," Mr Papadopoulos said.

"We are totally against it. However, this is a film that's intended to challenge, and in a democracy people can make up their own minds."

Festival director Richard Wolstencroft admitted he was unsure whether the film was defensible.

"It definitely shocked me. It made me question whether cinema is going too far," Mr Wolstencroft said.

"I don't know if I can defend it. But we all have the right to see and debate this film."

Child-protection advocate Hetty Johnston of Bravehearts said though she had not seen the film, anything that normalised child abuse or depicted it as anything but abhorrent was unacceptable.

Crime Victims Support Association's Noel McNamara said the film's premise was "outrageously sickening".

"The only people who could find anything to their liking in this depraved movie would be sex offenders and paedophiles," Mr McNamara said.

"I am sure our community at large will steer clear of this trash."

 

 

August 2011: National review announced for censored DVD

Classification review announced for the film, A Serbian Film
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
Monday 29th August 2011

The Classification Review Board has received an application to review the classification of the film, A Serbian Film.

A Serbian Film was classified R 18+ with the consumer advice ‘High impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence’ on 5 April 2011.

The Classification review Board will meet on 19th September 2011 to consider the application. The decision and reasons will later be published on www.classification.gov.au

If an individual or organisation wishes to apply for standing as an interested party to this review, please write to the Convenor of the Review Board.

The closing date to lodge your application as an interested party and any submission is 5.00pm on 15th September 2011. Please note that the Review Board can only consider submission about the film, A Serbian Film, itself and not any other matters relating to classification policy or issues generally.

Submissions should be emailed to crb@classification.gov.au or sent to:

The Convenor
Classification Review Board
Locked Bag 3
HAYMARKET NSW 1240

The Classification Review Board is an independent merits review body. It makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. The Classification Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

 

 

September 2011: Accent announce the DVD has been banned

On September 19th, the Classification Review Board met to consider the R18+ rated A SERBIAN FILM. The DVD had already been censored by approximately four minutes, and had been released a month earlier.

Accent Entertainment broke the news of the RC-rating on Twitter.

 

Twitter: 19 September 2011

@AccentFilms

A SERBIAN FILM has been refused classification by the Classification Review Board. That's democracy, right? What's next, a media inquiry???

Thanks to the SA Attorney General who demanded the R18+ rating be reviewed after seeing the film. Question: how did he see the film?

Funny how the DVD store owner who complained about the film to SA AG has never returned the DVD screener. They know our address. Waiting....

Yes, the film is banned so the DVD will have to be pulled from stores in due course but we will asses our next options.

While many have been offended by the film, many others have praised it here in Oz. Now, people cannot make up their own minds.

To those who have already purchased the DVD, we THINK you are safe but, nowadays, we cannot rule a house search and arrest by AFP!

To those few stores who refused to stock the DVD, we are STILL waiting for the DVD screener to be returned. Waiting,,,waiting...waiting....

BTW, we have a great relationship with Classification Board. This is really not their doing. It's political.

For those unaware, the national classification system is currently under review by Federal.gov't. Funny that!

 

 

September 2011: Review Board confirm A SERBIAN FILM banned in Australia

The following statement was released on September 20th, the day after the ban. By this point, A SERBIAN FILM had been banned three times. First in a 99m uncut version, and then 97m, and 95:19 censored prints.

 

A Serbian Film classified RC upon review
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
19 September 2011

A three member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has by unanimous decision determined that the film A Serbian Film is classified RC (Refused Classification).

In the Review Board’s opinion, A Serbian Film could not be accommodated within the R 18+ classification as the level of depictions of sexual violence, themes of incest and depictions of child sexual abuse in the film has an impact which is very high and not justified by context.

Films classified RC cannot be sold, hired, or advertised in Australia.

The Review Board convened on Monday 19 September 2011 in response to an application from the Minister for Justice, the Hon Brendan O’Connor, to review the decision made by the Classification Board on 5 April 2011 to classify A Serbian Film R 18+ (Restricted) with the consumer advice, ‘high impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence’.

In reviewing the classification, the Review Board worked within the framework of the National Classification Scheme, applying the provisions of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games. This is the same framework used by the Classification Board.

The Review Board is an independent merits review body. Meeting in camera, it makes a fresh classification decision upon receipt of an application for review. This Review Board decision takes the place of the original decision made by the Classification Board.

The Review Board’s reasons for this decision will appear on the Classification website when finalised. Statement authorised by Ann Stark, Classification Review Board.

Statement authorised by Ann Stark, Classification Review Board

 

 

September 2011: Accent Entertainment on the Review Board's statement

Twitter: 20 September 2011

@AccentFilms

FYI: Classification Review Board which decided to refuse classification to A SERBIAN FILM consisted of only THREE people!

These THREE people are unnamed. We have no idea who they are. Yet, they decide what films the rest of Australia can see.

Initially, we were informed the panel would consist of FIVE people from five different states, including SA where it's banned anyway!

None of these THREE UNNAMED PEOPLE on the Classification Review Board came from NSW or VIC, our two most populated states!

In fact, the Classification Review Board does not have ANYBODY from NSW or VIC in any of their review decision!

Our classification system needs an overhaul. Once a film gets a rating and is released, there must not be any avenue to review the rating.

Under the current review system, ANY film since 1900 is open to review and the decision rests with these FOUR people

 

 

September 2011: Collective Shout's submission to Review Board

Collective Shout was granted standing as an interested party to the review of A SERBIAN FILM. The founding Director of the group is the conservative Christian, Melinda Tankard Reist.

Thanks to Dan for sending this in.

 

Submission to the Classification Review Board on A Serbian Film [Srpski Film]
Collective Shout

Standing Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation is a grassroots campaigning movement against the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in the media and popular culture.

Collective Shout targets corporations, advertisers, marketers and media that exploit the bodies of women and girls to sell products and services, and campaign to change their behaviour. We also engage in broader out-­‐workings of sexploitation, including the inter-­‐connected industries of pornography, prostitution and trafficking.

Collective Shout has made submissions to recent inquiries into the national classification scheme by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Australian law Reform Commission. Collective Shout was invited to give evidence to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in support of its submission.

Collective Shout is supported in this submission by Children of Phoenix, which provides assistance to survivors of child sexual assault and Kids Free 2B Kids.

 

Refused Classification

Collective Shout submits that A Serbian Film, in the modified DVD version classified R18+ by the Classification Board on 5 April 2011, should be classified RC – Refused Classification.

This submission is based on the Decision Report and on an independent viewing of the film by an advisor to Collective Shout.

Collective Shout submits that A Serbian Film:

• Contains depictions of child sexual abuse and other exploitative and offensive depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years; and

• Gratuitous, exploitative and offensive depictions of sexual violence.

For each of these reasons it should be Refused Classification.

Collective Shout also submits that A Serbian Film cannot be accommodated in the R18+ classification as the depictions of violence and sexual violence, including child rape, have an impact which exceeds high. The depictions of sexual violence are not merely implied but are explicitly depicted.

 

Depictions of child sexual abuse/Offensive depictions of a child under 18 years

There are two children depicted being sexually abused or otherwise offensively depicted in A Serbian Film.

Petar – Five year old boy

The first is the lead character Milos’s five year old son Petar.

At 80-­82 minutes there is an extended scene of Petar (his identity is quite clear from subsequent scenes where is shown as having been traumatised by the rape) being anally raped by his father Milos. Legs – quite clearly those of a child – are visible in a rear shot of Milos’ thrusting violently into the child’s anus. Earlier a facial shot of Milos is shown as he impliedly forces his erect penis into his son’s anus.

Besides this scene Petar is depicted in a scene at 2 minutes watching a pornographic video showing his father engaged in violent sex with a woman. At 9 minutes Petar is depicted telling his mother and father that he felt sexually aroused (“wheels were spinning near his willie”) while watching the pornographic film. Later at 29 minutes Petar asks his father to tell him how to get the feeling of the “wheels spinning” again. His father encourages him to touch his (Petar’s) genitals. When he starts to do so Milos advises him to wait until night time.

At 39 minutes there is a scene in which Milos’ policeman brother is naked and having oral sex performed on him while watching a film of Petar’s 5th birthday party. As Petar is told in the film to “blow harder” in reference to the candles on his birthday cake, the brother is urging the woman to perform oral sex more vigorously.

At 48 minutes there is a dream sequence in which Petar watches Milos naked and beating the body of a naked woman who has already been badly beaten. Petar is holding a red, phallic like balloon and calling out “Hit it Dad” repeatedly urging Milos to beat the woman.

In the final scene at about 92 minutes after Milos, his wife and Petar have each been killed, the film director tells a man who is unzipping his fly “to start with the little one” implying necrophilic anal intercourse with the dead Petar.

Taken all together these depictions of a five year old boy are “offensive depictions of a child under 18 years”. The scene of the anal rape of Petar by his father Milos is a depiction of child sexual abuse. It could also be considered to be a depiction of incest.

Jeca – adolescent girl

The second child is an adolescent girl called Jeca, Her age is never given but she quite clearly appears to be younger than 18.

Jeca appears in several scenes where adults are engaged in sexual acts.

At 35 minutes while Milos is having oral sex performed on him by a woman he sees two screens with film of Jeca – in one she is licking an icecream; in the other she is applying lipstick.

At 43 minutes there is a scene in which a man is slapping a woman and telling her that “Raika was real man” but that she and her child should have been killed. The woman then begins to perform oral sex on Milos. Milos sees Jeca sitting in the room. He tries to stop the woman continuing with oral sex. A man comes up behind him and puts him in a headlock. The woman bites on his penis. The man holding Milos in a headlock and Jeca both tell him to “hit the whore”. Milos then ejaculates and there is a clear depiction of ejaculate on the woman’s face. Jeca is shown watching and smiling.

At 70 minutes there is a scene in which an elderly woman, possibly Jeca’s grandmother, encourages Milos to have sex with Jeca who is said to be a virgin. She says Jeca’s father Raika was about to take her virginity but he died so it falls to Milos to do this. Jeca is smiling and flirting with Milos during this conversation. Milos who at this stage is doped with a cattle aphrodisiac refuses to do this, instead attempts to cut off his erect penis and then jumps out of the window.

Taken together these depictions of Jeca in conjunction with adults having sex either while seeing film of her or with her actually in the room and encouraging sexual violence and taking pleasure in it are offensive depictions of a child under 18 years.

 

Depictions of sexual violence

In addition to the scenes involving sexual violence involving children as described above there are several depictions of sexual violence in A Serbian Film which are gratuitous, exploitative or offensive and with a degree of impact which exceeds high.

 

The scene at 62 minutes is well described in the Classification Board’s Decision Report.

At approximately 62 minutes, Milos, dazed, breathing heavily and visibly affected by the cattle aphrodisiac said to have been diluted in his whisky, is brought into the room with his hands restrained behind his back. He has a small microphone placed in his ear, is undressed, the handcuffs are removed and he is directed towards a nude female who, implicitly bound, lies facedown and spreadeagled on a bed. Milos stands behind her and thrusts vigorously, engaging in realistically simulated rear-­entry sexual intercourse with the grimacing woman. Through his earpiece, Milos hears Vukmir yell that the female is a “dirty junkie cunt . . . she is scum”, then Vukmir screams, “Hit the whore! Hit the bitch!”

In a frenzy, Milos thrusts aggressively while forcefully and repeatedly punching the female below screen. The woman cries out in pain as Vukmir continues shouting through the earpiece, “Imagine her turning (Milos’ young son) into a dog-­fucker’s bitch . . . Strike her! Hit her!”. The woman turns her head and, looking back at Milos, cries out in fear then blood is viewed splattering across the wall. The woman is viewed with her lower face, neck and upper shoulders drenched in blood, her body jerking violently in time with Milos’ thrusting. The camera cuts to Milos with his armed raised high above his head before he slashes down with a machete into the back of the woman’s neck, and implicitly hacks off her head. Milos is depicted with blood splashed over his arms and upper body before a close up depiction of the woman, bathed in blood and gore, her head now implicitly detached from her body, and blood spurting from the blood vessels in her neck. Milos continues thrusting vigorously behind the female’s bloodied corpse before being disarmed and pulled away by two males, one of whom uses his foot to push the woman’s buttocks free from Milos’ thrusting. The scene ends at approximately 64 minutes with a close up of a thick pool of blood running into a drain set in the floor.

 

The beheading of a woman by a man who is raping her is an extreme act of sexual violence. It is depicted with sufficient detail to make the scene of very high impact. The combination of extremely aggressive coarse language with the sexual violence heightens the impact.

At 67 minutes there is a scene of Milos being raped by a man while he is unconscious.

The scene at 80 minutes, as described in detail in the Classification Board’s Decision Report, includes the rape of Milos’ wife by his brother as well as Milos rape of his 5 year old son.

These scenes exceed the R18+ criterion that “sexual violence may be implied if justified by context”. Rather they give detailed, prolonged depictions of sexual violence which is being done for the sole purpose of making a sexually violent pornographic film.

 

Conclusion

The thin story line of the film seems to be a mere vehicle for attempting to justify the depictions of scenes of child sexual abuse and other offensive depictions of a child under 18 years of age and of sexual violence with a very high degree of impact.

A Serbian Film should be classified RC - Refused Classification.

 

 

September 2011: Accent vs. Melinda Tankard Reist

Following the RC-rating, Accent Entertainment and Collective Shout's Melinda Tankard Reist communicated on Twitter.

 

Twitter: 19 September 2011

Accent Films
A SERBIAN FILM has been refused classification by the Classification Review Board. That's democracy, right? What's next, a media inquiry???

Melinda TankardReist
@AccentFilms So you think images of child rape should be allowed in DVD's from your local video store do you?

Accent Films
@meltankardreist There are no images of child rape in our version. BTW: No diff't to Salo, Happiness, Mysterious Skin etc.

Melinda TankardReist
@AccentFilms The scene with the baby was taken out, but still a scene involving a 5 yr old - is that in your film?

Accent Films
@MelTankardReist No it's not. According to classification guidelines any explicit images of child abuse is prohibited.

 

Twitter: 20 September 2011

Accent Films
@MelTankardReist: "we hear is now doing the rounds of schools on USB sticks." This is NOT our edited version doing the rounds.

Melinda TankardReist
@AccentFilms so you cut the scene of baby being raped to death but the child's rape was ok right?

Accent Films
@MelTankardReist Firstly, we removed the reveal that showed who it was. Secondly, no child abuse is NOT ok. The film clearly shows this.

 

Twitter: 22 September 2011

Accent Films
So let's run ALL films through @collectiveshout since it appears we need their approval for the rest of the country to see the films.

 

 

November 2011: A SERBIAN FILM: The missing Review Board report

It is standard practice for the Classification Review Board to release a full report when it is complete. This may take up to a month to appear.

A SERBIAN FILM was banned on September 19, but by November 22, no report had been posted on the Classification Review Board’s website.

 

We mentioned this to Accent on twitter following the super fast publishing of the BREAKING DAWN PART 1 (2011) report.

Twitter: 22 November 2011
RefusedC
@AccentFilms BREAKING DAWN PT1 Review Board report took 7 days bit.ly/sK0Saj. A SERBIAN FILM banned 65 days ago & still waiting!

Accent Entertainment informed us that they had received the report two weeks earlier, and forwarded us a copy. It is reproduced below in full.

 

The Classification Review Board finally made the following statement on the availability of the report. Despite being dated November 4, it did not appear until late November or early December 2011.

This was the first time that a full report was not made available on their site. Their statement claimed that it contained offensive and confronting descriptions and should not be read by minors.

 

 

A Serbian Film classified RC upon review
Australian Government
Classification Review Board
4 November 2011

The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) by unanimous decision determined that the film, A Serbian Film, should be Refused Classification.

The reasons for the decision contain offensive and confronting descriptions. The report should not be read by minors. Nonetheless, as is the Review Board’s practice, the reasons are publicly available. If you would like a copy of the reasons, please contact the Classification Branch on the Attorney-General’s Department on the numbers below.

A copy of the reasons has been provided to the Minister for Justice who was the applicant for review, the distributor of the film and interested parties to the review.

Statement authorised by Ann Stark, Classification Review Board

 

 

Full Classification Review Board report

Thanks to Accent Entertainment for the report. For the first time ever, the Classification Review Board refused to publish this on their website.

Convenor's Overview
Classification Review Board Annual Report 2011-2012

The decision reports for all titles except A Serbian Film are published on the classification website at www.classification.gov.au. The decision report for A Serbian Film is available upon request from the Classification Branch. This Report is not published on the website due to the offensive and confronting descriptions contained in the Report.

 

The print of A SERBIAN FILM being examined was the 95:19 censored version. Despite this, the all-female Review Board still awarded it an RC-rating.

 

Australian Government
Classification Review Board

Review Date: Monday 19 September 2011

23-33 MARY STREET SURRY HILLS, NSW

MEMBERS:
Ms Ann Stark
Ms Helena Blundell
Dr Melissa de Zwart

APPLICANT 
Minister for Justice, the Hon Brendan O'Connor MP

INTERESTED PARTIES
Accent Film Entertainment
Melinda Tankard Reist (Collective Shout)

BUSINESS

To review the Classification Board's decision to classify the film, A Serbian Film, R 18+ (Restricted) with consumer advice 'high impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence'.

 

DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION

1. Decision

The Classification Review Board (the Review Board) by unanimous decision determined that the film, A Serbian Film, should be Refused Classification.

 

2. Legislative provisions

The Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Classification Act) governs the classification of films and the review of classification decisions. Section 9 provides that films are to be classified in accordance with the National Classification Code (the Code) and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games (the Guidelines).

Section 11 of the Classification Act requires that the matters to be taken into account in making a decision on the classification of a film include:

(a) the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and

(b) the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the film; and

(c) the general character of the film, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character; and

(d) the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published.

 

Three essential principles underlie the use of the Guidelines, determined under section 12 of the Classification Act:

• the importance of context;

• the assessment of impact; and

• the six classifiable elements - themes, violence, sex, language, drug use and nudity.

 

3. Procedure

A three member panel of the Review Board met on Monday 19 September 2011 in response to the receipt of an application from the Minister of Justice dated 19 August 2011 to review the R 18+ classification of the film, determined by the Classification Board. Those three members had previously determined that the application was a valid application.

The Review Board was assured that the film, the subject of the review application. was the same film as had been classified by the Classification Board.

The Review Board viewed the film on Monday 19 September 2011.

The Review Board considered written applications from Accent (original applicant) and Melinda Tankard Reist (Collective Shout).

The Review Board then considered the matter.

 

4. Evidence and other material taken into account

In reaching its decision the Review Board had regard to the following:

(i) The application for review;

(ii) the film. A Serbian Film;

(iii) the relevant provisions in the Classification Act the Code and the Guidelines; and

(iv) the Classification Board's report.

 

5. Synopsis

A Serbian Film depicts Milos, a retired porn star, who is offered a role in a movie by Vukmir. Vukmir promises Milos a large sum of money but refuses to give him any indication of what is required. Milos is initially taken to a building bearing a prominent sign 'Home for Abandoned and Orphaned Children'. He is filmed by a number of men dressed in uniforms suggestive of police/ paramilitary affiliation. From this point on, in sequence and in flashback, the film depicts Milos performing a range of sexually violent acts. Milos attempts to withdraw from the project but has his will overborne, with violent consequences for Milos. his family and others. Throughout the film there is a strong connection between the presence of children and sexual and violent acts.

 

6. Findings on material questions of fact

The Board notes that the the National Classification Code states, inter alia (in Item 1 (Refused Classification), sub-paragraph (a) (b) and (c)), that films that:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

(b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is. or appears to be , a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not)

(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence

should be refused classification.

 

The Board notes that pursuant to the Guidelines, films will be refused classification if they include any of the following elements the impact of which is very high:

• crime or violence;

• sex;

• or drug use.

And that the wording of the Guidelines includes the following:

Films and computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain any of the following:

 

CRIME OR VIOLENCE

Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.

The promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity.

Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.

Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:

(i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;

(ii) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have a high impact;

(iii) sexual violence.

 

SEX

Depictions of practices such as bestiality.

Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:

(i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are offensive or abhorrent;

(ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies which are offensive or abhorrent.

Based upon the relevant provisions of the Code and the Guidelines, these elements are therefore addressed by the Board:

 

(a) CRIME OR VIOLENCE:

(I) Promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity:

The Board found that the film contained the promotion of paedophile activity. For example:

• A preschool child. Petar, Milos' son, is shown becoming aroused after watching his father depicted in a pornographic film;

• At approximately 30 minutes, the setting of the 'movie" being made by Vukmir largely takes place in the Home for Abandoned and Orphaned Children which contains images of children's artwork and toys;

• At approximately 34 mins, Milos has oral sex performed on him while he is watching a video of a young girl eating an ice-cream and applying lipstick in a sexually suggestive manner;

• At approximately 34 mins. Marko (Milos' brother) has oral sex performed on him whilst watching a home video of Petar" s 5t!l birthday party, with the child seen blowing out candles and being urged to "blow harder"; 

• At 42 minutes a young girl, Jeca, is shown sitting on a chair, as a distressed woman who, it is implied, is the young girl's mother; is performing oral sex on Milos. When Milos sees the young girl and tries to stop the woman, the woman bites his penis. Milos is then grabbed in a headlock by a man, who, together with the girl, urges Miios to hit the woman, which he does. The woman is seen with blood and ejaculate landing on her face and the young girl is shown smiling;

• At 47 minutes a dream sequence features a child (Petar) with a red phallic balloon urging Milos to 'hit it Dad. tear it Dad' over the bloodied body of a woman;

• At 53.45 minutes after Vukmir says 'let me show you a real victim' a woman is shown in the later stages of labour, attended by one the thugs dressed in his underwear. The bloody baby is shown immediately after birth being handled 4 by the thug and the normal crying of the baby gives way to screaming, a reasonable conclusion implied from this sequence is that the baby was sexually abused;

• At 69 minutes Milos is taken into a room where Jeca, who by now has been identified as Vukmir's daughter, is shown dressed in clothes suitable fora young child. She is referred to as 'Alice in Wonderland". Milos is invited to have sexual intercourse with Jeca in order to "make her a woman' as part of her 'virgin communion'; the older woman suggesting that this is what her lather did for her. Jeca is shown smiling throughout. Milos resists this invitation, but it is couched in terms which promote it as a desirable activity;

All these examples, in the view of the Board, promote paedophile activity through providing detailed descriptions, in a positive light of sexual contact, on occasions of a violent nature, between adults and two children who are clearly under the age of 18. The sexual contact is presented as desirable and enjoyable.

 

(2) Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse

The Board found that there were descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse and other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.

• The scene having the highest impact was the scene commencing at approximately 79 minutes where Milos is led naked into a room with two covered figures face down on a mattress, one clearly the size of a very young child. Milos is depicted lying on top of the smaller figure with the child's legs appearing under his body.

• At 81 minutes a set-back shot clearly shows blood coming between the small legs, this has been preceded by sound effects of distressed groans and Milos' grunting in apparent effort as well as a close up of Milos' face grimacing in pain and effort. The clear implication is that the small figure is being subjected to forced anal penetration. The duration of this scene is at least two minutes.

• At 88 minutes in subdued lighting Maria is shown cradling a shocked and traumatised Petar. At 89 minutes Maria is again shown rocking the child in a clearer light; the child is staring blankly, apparently traumatised. This scene appears to suggest that Petar was the small figure seen earlier being raped by Milos.

• At 91 minutes after Milos has shot himself, his wife and child, the thugs appear in the room filming the scene, one is shown undoing his fly and a voice commands him to 'start with the little one'. The implication being that he is to sexually assault the three dead bodies.

In the view of the Board, these examples, whilst not exhaustive, provide sufficient instances of depictions and descriptions of child sexual abuse and offensive and exploitative depictions of two children, both clearly under the age of 18 to require the film to be refused classification.

 

(3) Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of: sexual violence

The Board found that the film contained depictions of sexualised violence (sex and violence being connected in the narrative and in time), as well as sexual violence (i.e. sexual assault or aggression, in which the victim does not consent) with a very high degree of impact. Many of these scenes have already been described under (1) and (2) above. However, in addition to these scenes, the Board specifically identified the following as constituting gratuitous, exploitative and offensive depictions of sexual violence:

• At 62 minutes Milos is handcuffed, injected with cattle aphrodisiac, stripped and urged to 'hit the whore, hit the bitch' by the voice in Ms earphone, he begins hitting the woman and then uses a machete impliedly to decapitate her, and continues having sex with her;

• At 66 minutes Milos is depicted being anally raped by a thug while he is unconscious;

• At 79 minutes Milos is depicted raping a prone, covered person, who is later revealed as his wife. Maria;

• At 83 minutes a woman staggers into the room foaming at the mouth, with extensive amounts of blood flowing from her pubic region, holding a bloody pipe, from which it can be implied thai she was raped using the pipe;

• The scene commencing at 79 minutes (which includes some of the above depictions) is an extended rape scene lasting approximately three and half minutes. While Milos is raping the smaller figure, a masked figure, later revealed as Milos' brother, Marko, commences raping the larger figure (revealed later as Maria).

There are instances of violence which the Board considers could be accommodated at the R 18+ classification. The Board considers that it is the repeated instances of violence linking sexual activity and violence and children that results in the impact being very high.

 

(b) SEX:

The Board noted the following depictions of gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of sexual activity accompanied by practices which are offensive or abhorrent. These include instances of necrophilia:

• The continuation of sex with the beheaded corpse at 62 minutes;

• The implication of sexual activity with the three dead bodies of Milos, Maria and Petar at 91 minutes.

The Board noted the following gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of incest fantasies which are offensive or abhorrent:

• Repeated references to Jeca as Vukmirs daughter and his offering of her as a sexual victim in that context.

• The rape of Petar by his father, Milos previously detailed, and

• Marko (Miles' brother) receiving oral sex whilst watching a homemade video of his nephew, Petar's, 5th birthday party.

 

(c) DRUG USE:

There were incidences of forced drug use throughout the film; including the forced administration of cattle aphrodisiac through spiking Miles' drink and the injection of Milos by the 'doctor'. The Board considered that this drug use could be accommodated at the R18+ classification.

 

7. Reasons for the decision

Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games, this film is refused classification.

The rationale given by the distributer for the very high levels of sexual and sexualised violence within the film was that it was an allegory of victims of war. The narrative of the film itself did not support this claim. Although the publicity accompanying the film makes this claim, there was only one instance within the film when any direct connection was made between the rape of women and children comprehensively depicted and the "rape" of the country viz at 52 minutes Vukmir, in answer to Milos" expressed intense discomfort at having to make such a film in a "kindergarten" spends approximately two minutes describing the whole country as a victim. Other than this speech, there is no direct linkage of the extensive, gratuitous and exploitative depictions of sexual violence and child sexual abuse described in section 6 and the political rationale provided in the film's description.

In the opinion of the Review Board this does not provide sufficient rationale to justify the contents of the film in context. In the Review Board's opinion there are numerous examples already detailed of instances where sexual violence and themes of incest and depictions of child abuse have been used gratuitously .

In the Review Board's opinion, A Serbian Film could not be accommodated within the R 18+ classification as the level of depictions of sexual violence, themes of incest and depictions of child sexual abuse in the film has an impact which is very high and not justified by context.

 

8. Summary

The Review Board determined that the film, A Serbian Film, is refused classification.

 

 

November 2011: Community attitudes to the "Hit the Bitch!" scene

In October and November 2011, the Australian Law Reform Commission conducted a study to gauge community attitudes to 'high-level material'. It was carried out as part of their research for the Classification: Content Regulation and Convergent Media Final Report that was released in March 2012.

The study, which includes an explanation of the methodology, and the final report, can be found at alrc.gov.au

The groups were shown the "Hit the bitch!" scene from A SERBIAN FILM. On the day, this was judged the most offensive scene that the groups had seen.

 

Community attitudes to higher level media content
Community and Reference Group Forums conducted for the Australian Law Reform Commission
Final Report: 7 December 2011

CG = Community Groups
RG = Reference Groups

 

11. Short Extract From a Serbian Film

Description

This footage came from the film "A Serbian Film", which is a psychological horror that tells the story of a retired porn star who accepts a role in a film where he finds himself involved in nightmarish scenarios that threaten his wife, his child and himself. In the footage that is shown, a fully nude female is led to a bed and, spreadeagled on her belly, is forcibly cuffed by her wrists and ankles. The lead character, implicitly drug-affected, engages in realistically simulated rear-entry sexual intercourse with her. Through his earpiece, he hears a command: ‘Hit the bitch!’. He thrusts aggressively while explicitly slapping, and then forcefully punching, the female’s back. Bruising appears on the female's back in immediate post action visuals. He is handed a machete and, through a succession of detailed depictions, implicitly hacks the female’s head off. Blood and gore noted. He continues thrusting vigorously behind the headless female’s corpse before being pulled away by two males. The footage shown to participants went for 2.5 minutes.

 

Personal Response

Each participant’s immediate personal response was indicated by raising one of three cards immediately after the viewing of the footage and then recording this response in the questionnaire. Based on the metaphor of the traffic light, a red card implies 'yes, this content is offensive to me', a yellow card implies 'I’m unsure whether the content is offensive or not to me’ and a green card implies 'no, the content is not offensive to me'.

Community Groups
29: Yes, offensive
0: Unsure
1: No, not offensive

Reference Groups
26: Yes, offensive
1: Unsure
1: No, not offensive

 

A Serbian Film – Detailed Analysis Was the material offensive?

The overwhelming feeling amongst all participants was that the material had been very offensive to watch.

Specific offensive elements mentioned included the rape scene which most felt was disgusting, as well as the extreme violence towards and degradation of women.

Strong words were used by participants in all groups to describe their reactions to the content, including ‘grossed out’, ‘horrendous’, ‘disturbing’, ‘absolute sexual violence’, ‘the most confronting footage of the day’.

 

Was the material impactful?

Community and RG participants generally found the material highly impactful.

The material was noted by some as being impactful ‘right from the start’, with the woman being sexually violated.

 

Should the material be banned or restricted?

There was strong support amongst community participants that the film should be banned, although some were unsure.

While the majority of RG participants would ban the film a minority were unsure.

Those who would not ban the film would restrict it to 18+.

There was an overall sense in the groups that it would be better for material of this nature not to be seen.

 

CG and RG participants often questioned the value of a film of this kind as a work of art e.g. ‘that there are people who pay to see stuff like this, make collections of it, that’s the true horror for me’ and ‘no story justifies the level of violence shown’. There was the view that an understanding of the broad plot of the movie wouldn't help to mitigate the actions and those of others in the scene, i.e. that the context didn't really matter. As one CG participant noted, ‘A good director would have filmed it differently, here it was all on highlighting the violence graphically. It was the way it was filmed that was offensive, not the storyline’.

Similarly, discussion amongst RG participants included questions as to why such a film would be made in the first place, why people would want to watch it at all, and whether there may not actually be harm to some people who do watch it. A few pointed to the potential harms to the actors involved, and whether it could be regarded as clear-cut that actors would provide their "consent" to participate in such scenes (i.e. that there may be a level of coercion involved). A few pointed to the potential impact of films of this type on some people, i.e. that it may encourage them or ‘serve as a trigger’ for them to engage in such violence.

Those RG participants who did not support banning the film made reference to the freedom of choice and the need to preserve this.

 

Key Findings

The content that registered the highest levels of offence included both scripted drama and material involving actual criminal activity. The two items of content that registered the highest level of offence with both the community groups and the reference groups were a scene from the film A Serbian Film and a recorded online solicitation of a child for apparently sexual purposes.

 

Comparison of Top Six Most Offensive Content

Community Groups

  1. A Serbian film (29)
  2. Online solicitation of a child (29)
  3. Short film showing Abortion (20)
  4. Hostel – 'Eyeball' (20)
  5. Hostel – 'Finger' (18)
  6. Fetish – Gagging (18)

 

Reference Groups

  1. A Serbian film (26)
  2. Online solicitation of a child (24)
  3. Hostel – 'Eyeball' (21)
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (16)
  5. Fetish – Gagging (15)
  6. Online magazine (terrorism) (14)

 

 

Complaints and Comments

Other Complaints
Classification Board Annual Report 2011-2012

A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) were two films that attracted numerous complaints during the reporting period for a range of reasons. It was not clear from some of the complaints whether the complainants had viewed the films at all, or if they had, whether they had seen them at festivals, at a cinema or on DVD.

There were 14 complaints about A Serbian Film. Several versions of this film are classified. One version of the film was classified R 18+ by the Classification Board with the consumer advice of ‘high impact sexual violence, sex scenes and violence’. The majority of complainants thought that the R 18+ classification was too low and wanted the film to be refused classification. A Serbian Film was later reviewed by the Classification Review Board which overturned the R 18+ decision and classified the film RC.

 

Convenor's Overview
Classification Review Board Annual Report 2011-2012

The previous Minister for Home Affairs and Justice made two applications for review during this reporting period. One application was for the review of the R 18+ classification of the film, A Serbian Film…

The Review Board overturned the R 18+ classification decision of the Classification Board and classified both films RC.

The decision reports for all titles except A Serbian Film are published on the classification website at www.classification.gov.au. The decision report for A Serbian Film is available upon request from the Classification Branch. This Report is not published on the website due to the offensive and confronting descriptions contained in the Report.

Victoria Rubensohn AM
Convenor

 

Decisions of the Review Board 
Classification Review Board Annual Report 2011-2012

The reports for the Review Board’s decisions are published on www.classification.gov.au. The decision report for A Serbian Film is not on the website due to the nature of the content contained in the Report but it can be provided upon request from the Classification Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department.

 

Complaints
Classification Review Board Annual Report 2011-2012

The Review Board received 15 complaints about its decisions.

…two complaints about A Serbian Film Those that wrote about A Serbian Film were complaining about the Review Board’s consideration of interested party submissions.

 

 

2014: Aborted World Movies

In February 2014, A SERBIAN FILM was reportedly announced as being part of the MORE FILMS THAT SHOCKED THE WORLD season on World Movies. However, it had been dropped from the schedule when the screening began in March.

Instead it featured the Australian television premiers of EMMANUELLE (1974), I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986), as well as censored versions of CALIGULA (1980) and PINK FLAMINGOS (1972).


 

 

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