Censorship News & Updates

Life is Strange 2 – Banned

February 8, 2023

Life is Strange 2 (2023) - Nintendo Switch

Five weeks into 2023 and already there are twenty Refused Classification IARC entries. The majority are gambling related.

The most high profile is LIFE IS STRANGE 2 by Square Enix Europe. The trigger appears to have been the February 2 Nintendo Switch release. A multi-platform version passed with an R18+ (Interactive drug use, online interactivity) in September 2019.

All 1703 RC titles are in our Game IARC Censorship Timeline

Island of Terror (1966) – Cuts list

February 3, 2023

Island of Terror (1966) - Blu-ray

The entry for Terence Fisher’s ISLAND OF TERROR (1966) is updated.

In this case, the distributor skipped an SOA (Suitable only for Adults) and censored all the violence for a more child-friendly A-rating. Luckily, K&C Video preserved the cut version on tape, enabling us to document the trims.

Please e-mail us if you can confirm if the RCA/Columbia Pictures/Hoyts Video VHS is uncut.

IARC Decisions – 2022 Review

January 15, 2023

HASAMI-SHOGI by Kotake Studio LLC

78 titles still hold Refused Classification ratings under the automated International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system. This is an increase over the previous two years but below the 101 of 2019.

A further 27 RC decisions were removed from the National Classification Database. Some, such as ASSASSIN’S CREED SYNDICATE, received lower ratings. Others, such as PUZZLE FOR BATTLEFIELD HARDLINE, just disappeared.

A lower rating does not always mean the removal of a refusal. In the case of PEAKY BLINDERS: THE KING’S RANSOM – DEMO – MAZE THEORY, it currently shows the original RC and an M-rating.

Others, STAR MEMORY ~BRAIN TRAINING~, went from G-rated in 2015 to PG in 2018 and RC in 2022.

Once an RC rating is registered, it triggers its removal from Australian app stores such as Google Play. This results in a ‘We’re sorry, the requested URL was not found on this server’.

Via a browser, try accessing HASAMI-SHOGI by Kotake Studio LLC in Australia vs. overseas to see the difference. View this YouTube clip and work out why it is banned in Australia. Yes, it is a Japanese chess game blocked because the IARC system does not work.

In the reporting year 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, the Classification Board checked 4563 of the 275159 automated IARC decisions or 1.7%. Of those, 3450, or 75.6 % were revoked. This means the rating was either too low or too high. In the case of IARC, it is usually the latter.

A 75.6% failure rate proves the system is not working. An incorrect rating should not matter, as a game will remain in the Australian app stores. However, in the case of RC decisions, they disappear entirely.

The most notorious case was the 2018 refusal of the ORBIT RESCUE child safety app. This space-themed online game, launched by the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, provided strategies to avoid sexual abuse. Although eventually dropped to PG, it remained unavailable in the Google Play store because of the RC.

The Classification Board should therefore be checking 100% of RC decisions.

The full list of 1688 banned apps can be found in our IARC Censorship Timeline.

How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord (2021) – Banned

January 8, 2023

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord (2021) - Season 2

One week into 2023 and we already have our first Refused Classification. The honour goes to Season 2 of HOW NOT TO SUMMON A DEMON LORD (2021).

January 26, 2023 – Update

The decision report reveals one image was responsible for the refusal. See the entry for more details.

The Cannabis Encyclopedia (2015) – Seized

January 6, 2023

The Cannabis Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to Cultivation & Consumption of Medical Marijuana (2015) by Jorge Cervantes

One book we missed from last year was Jorge Cervantes’ THE CANNABIS ENCYCLOPEDIA (2015) which was seized around April.

Unlike EDIBLES (2019) and PSYCHEDELIC CANNABIS (2019), it was not submitted to the Classification Board.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) – Censored

December 28, 2022

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) - Poster

The G-rated LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE that opened on Boxing Day is the censored version. Modifications have been made to ‘themes’ and ‘violence’.

It appears the forthcoming Blu-ray and DVD releases will be PG-rated and uncut.

January 27, 2023 – Update

We now have the differences between the PG and G reports. This should make it easier to identify the cuts.

Please get in touch if anyone views the G-rated version before it disappears from cinemas.

Peaceful Pill Handbook – Seized

December 24, 2022

The Peaceful Pill Handbook - Australian Edition (2006)

More confiscations of THE PEACEFUL PILL HANDBOOK have been reported by Philip Nitschke.

It originally received a Category 1 rating from the Classification Board in December 2006. The following month, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock applied to have it re-examined by the Review Board. That seven-member panel unanimously agreed it should be Refused Classification.

Since then, it has been seized numerous times at the border. The full sixteen-year censorship history can be found in our Publications Database

Ladies in Black (2018) – FOI

December 22, 2022

Ladies in Black (2018)

Eleven documents related to the classification of Bruce Beresford’s LADIES IN BLACK (2018) are available as part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The film was viewed by three-panel members on 11 July 2018. Their classification matrix decisions agreed there were no drug use or nudity and G-rated themes, violence and sex. The language was judged higher, because of ‘pissed’, and was the reason for the PG (Mild coarse language) rating.

A complaint was made about it containing nudity, so on 25 June 2019 the Director of the Classification Board asked for it to be ‘purchased ASAP’ and reviewed. The following day the classification matrix was amended to increase the nudity from none to G-rated. The overall classification remained PG (Mild coarse language). The complainant was unhappy, as they wanted nudity added to the consumer advice and not just a tweak to the online matrix.

The FOI request, made via Right to Know, is available on their site

Spherex Rating Tool

December 16, 2022

Spherex Global Ratings Tool

The Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, approved the Spherex Classification Tool on October 18, with her decision announced on November 7.

The first rating was THE PROBLEM WITH JON STEWART, SEASON 02, EPISODE 206, ELECTION WRAP-UP SPECIAL which was classified M on November 16.

After the IARC and Netflix tools, this is the third to be approved in Australia and will be used to classify online films, series and episodes. As with the other two, the Classification Board will still be able to replace a decision if they believe it is incorrectly rated.

For the period 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, there were 275159 IARC decisions. 4653 were checked and, of these, 3,450 revoked. Netflix had 1290 decisions, 43 were checked by the Board and 40 revoked and updated in the National Classification Database. We suspect many of these were rated too high. Both tools can be too conservative and award excessive ratings or consumer advice.

In March, Spherex released a report titled ‘Global TV Snapshot: Culture Age Ratings and Audience Demand’. It compared how AMERICAN HORROR STORY, GREY’S ANATOMY, HOUSE OF CARDS, THE WALKING DEAD and PRISON BREAK were classified in Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Brazil, the UK and the USA. The full report is available for download from Spherex.

As physical media disappears, and with their workload increasingly outsourced to online tools, the Classification Board will eventually be viewing only theatrical and enforcement submissions.

O-LYM-PIC Football Dreams – M to PG

December 16, 2022

O-LYM-PIC Football Dreams (2022)

The Australian documentary O-LYM-PIC FOOTBALL DREAMS (2022) has been modified for a PG rating.

The minor censorship would appear to have obscured swearing in the subtitles. The M-rated version had already bleeped them out.

Let’s Sing 2023 – M to PG

December 11, 2022

Let’s Sing 2023 with Hits from Australia & NZ

The karaoke game LET’S SING 2023 was initially M-rated, before being censored for a PG. It is this version that was released on November 15.

The removal of SOLO by CLEAN BANDIT FT DEMI LOVATO helped reduce the classification.

Psychedelic Cannabis (2019) – Banned

December 4, 2022

Psychedelic Cannabis: Therapeutic Methods and Unique Blends to Treat Trauma and Transform Consciousness (2019) by Daniel McQueen

Daniel McQueen’s book, PSYCHEDELIC CANNABIS (2019), has been banned by the Classification Board. The decision was made back in September, but has only now been added to the National Classification Database.

The reason for refusal is not listed but is presumably the same as EDIBLES (2019). That was also seized at the border and submitted for rating.

To Love Ru Darkness (2018-20) – 13 Volumes RC

December 3, 2022

To Love Ru Darkness, Volume 15 (2020)

This week, the Classification Board completed rating the entire eighteen-volume run of TO LOVE RU DARKNESS. It resulted in the refusal of thirteen and the remaining five passed as either Category 1 or 2.

In 2020, three volumes of NO GAME NO LIFE received RC ratings. While in 2012, another delivery of manga was similarly stopped at the border.

Riki Rhino (2020) – M to PG

November 30, 2022

Riki Rhino (2020)

Another recent case of censored animation is the Indonesian feature RIKI RHINO (2020). Jigsaw Entertainment found the M-rating was too high for its target audience and censored it for a PG.

January 29, 2023 – Update

We now have the differences between the M and PG-rated versions. They confirm that the words ‘screwed’ and ‘flucking’ [flocking] were the issue.

Please get in touch if you own this DVD and can confirm how the censorship has been applied.

Censored Swedish Movies

October 21, 2022

As the Naked Wind from the Sea (1968) & Ann and Eve (1970) - Posters

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, Swedish films were often censored in Australia.
This did not entirely disappear with the November 1971 introduction of the R-rating, but it did at least allow for fewer cuts.

AS THE NAKED WIND FROM THE SEA (1968) is an example of a title that was submitted both before and after liberalisation.

While ANYBODY’S (1970), banned December 1972 and passed March 1974, shows how it took a couple of years for the R-rating to bed down.

See the Film Censorship Timeline for examples of what was being cut and banned from November 1971 to 1973.

Mac Ahlberg, Torgny Wickman and Joe Sarno directed many of the Swedish movies that continued to have issues in the 1970s.

Matinée (2009) & MUFF

October 7, 2022

Matinée (2009) - Poster

Jennifer Lyon Bell’s MATINÉE (2009) is back on the site. It contains the background to its no-show at the 2009 Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) and the Sexy International Film Festival.

It was another of those cases where the Classification Board refuses a film festival exemption yet would happily award it an X18+ for home viewing.

For Richard Wolstencroft and MUFF, it was but the latest of a series of censorship battles. In 2001, he dropped eight titles, including SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975), from a planned CENSORSHIP 2001 series.

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978) and three other titles followed in 2004, and problems with WELCOME TO GREENSBOROUGH (2005) in 2005.

Despite being rated X18+, DAMON AND HUNTER: DOING IT TOGETHER (2006) screened at MUFF in 2006. Things did not go well in 2007, with seven titles, including Tony Comstock’s ASHLEY AND KISHA: FINDING THE RIGHT FIT (2007), refused exemptions.

Following the issues with MATINÉE in 2009, Richard Wolstencroft went ahead with a MUFF 11 protest screening of Bruce La Bruce’s L.A. ZOMBIE (2010). It resulted in the Victorian Police raiding his house and him being charged and fined $750.

Pieces (2022) – MA15+ appeal fails

September 30, 2022

Pieces (2022) - Poster

The Classification Review Board has confirmed the MA15+ rating of PIECES (2022). The decision of the three-member panel was unanimous.

The Classification Board’s consumer advice of “Strong mental health themes including references to suicide” has been modified to include “and self-harm”.

The review was a result of an appeal by Third Storey Pictures.

Redeeming Love (2022) – Twice M-rated

September 22, 2022

Redeeming Love (2022) DVD

Wikipedia describes REDEEMING LOVE (2022) as a Christian Western romance, based on the Biblical story of Hosea.

On July 4, a 140-minute version received an M (Mature themes, violence and sex) rating. This was followed on August 12, by a 123-minute EDITED VERSION which was classified M (Mature themes and violence).

The description of the UNCUT VERSION lists the following items which are missing from the second submission.

THEMES: The film deals with themes including…child slavery, trafficking…

VIOLENCE: A man is killed with a garrotte.

SEX: A man and a woman implicitly have sex in bed. A clothed woman is seen straddling a clothed man and rocking slightly.

NUDITY: A woman is seen naked several times, with her breasts, buttocks and genitals obscured by hands, hair or objects in the scene.

FEATURETTE: Deleted scenes.

The DVD was released on August 31 with the M (Mature themes, violence and sex) rating on the cover and a listed running time of 129-minutes. This points to it being the UNCUT VERSION.

Does anyone know if the EDITED VERSION has been released?
Was it a “clean” version especially prepared for Christians? Or just a failed attempt by Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to get a PG?

1970 Sydney Film Festival

September 2, 2022

A Married Couple (1969) & Like Night and Day (1969)

The background has been added to the banning of A MARRIED COUPLE (1969) and LIKE NIGHT AND DAY (1969). Both had been submitted to the Censorship Board before their intended screenings at the June 1970 Sydney Film Festival.

In previous years, the festival has had numerous clashes with the Board. Although things improved with the November 1971 introduction of the R-rating, incidents of censorship still occurred. The Danish film DEAR IRENE (1971) was cleared on appeal in 1972; PIXOTE (1981) had issues in 1982 and KEN PARK (2002) was banned outright in 2003.

Allan King’s A MARRIED COUPLE (1969) never did screen in Australia, however, it is currently available on YouTube. The ‘indecent language’ that once saw it banned would now be comfortably M-rated were it not for a single word that would presumably push it into MA15+.

Like other Swedish films in the pre-R era, LIKE NIGHT AND DAY (1969) did get a cut Australian release. Even after the introduction of the R-rating, Swedish films by directors such as Mac Ahlberg and Torgny Wickman continued to have problems.

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