Belgium Films

Movies from Belgium that were cut or banned in Australia.

That Girl Is a Tramp

Directed by Jack Guy / 1972 / Belgium – France / IMDb

In September 1976, a 2743.00-meter (99:59) print of THAT GIRL IS A TRAMP was censored by 110.00-meters (04:01) for an R-rating.

The cuts were made to remove ‘indecency’.

That Girl Is a Tramp (1972) - Australian daybill movie poster 1
Daybill via moviemem

Blake Films was the applicant.

Banned in Queensland

On 25 March 1978, the censored R-rated version of THAT GIRL IS A TRAMP was prohibited by the Queensland Films Board of Review.

The distributors were Blake Films and Roadshow Distributors.

Vase de Noces

aka Wedding Trough

Directed by Thierry Zéno / 1974 / Belgium / IMDb

VASE DE NOCES was programmed as part of the 1975 Perth International Film Festival. However, pressure from the Western Australian Government resulted in it having to be submitted for classification.

In August 1975, the Film Censorship Board banned the 888-meter (80:55) 16mm print for reasons of ‘indecency’.

The Perth International Film Festival immediately appealed to the Films Board of Review, and in August 1975 the refusal was overturned. The director, Thierry Zéno, attended the hearing and successfully defended his film.

VASE DE NOCES was not awarded an R-rating. Instead, it was registered to be shown only at the 1975 Perth International Film Festival and was subject to Film Festival conditions. A title card was inserted before the screening which included Zéno’s defence of his work. He and actor screenwriter Dominique Garny had both been in Perth to present the film.

We had a much more direct censorship in Australia. When Dominique and I arrived at the airport, distributor awaited us in a desperate mood. He told us that the movie was banned, and we were allowed to screen it only that day at the festival because the censorship forbade it.

From the airport, we had to drive to the theatre. We had arrived a few hours before the screening, and I saw that surrounding the theatre there were traffic jams and a demonstration.

So I said to the distributor ‘We’re out of luck, there’s a demonstration on the day of our screening.’

He replied, ‘Look at their posters, they are against the movie.’

The archbishop had asked his people to demonstrate against the movie.

After the screening, I had to face the censorship commission [Films Board of Review] to defend my film. They were satisfied about my words because they said ‘Alright, the film may be released in Australia, but it’ll be necessary to insert a title card at the beginning of the movie with a resume of your speech, explaining its intentions.’

I have memories of what happened after the movie.

– Director, Thierry Zéno
– Of Pigs And Men (2009)

November 1975
The Labor Government’s pre-election promise of no censorship for adults is still unhonored. The Commonwealth Film Censor consistently refuses certificates to hard-core pornography. It also goes without saying that any suggestion of sex with animals is totally verboten. At the same time the Censor has tried to honor its exemption agreement with the film festivals.

This year, however, Thierry Zeno’s VASE DE NOCES (THE WEDDING TROUGH) caused a stir with its largely tedious and psychological analysis of a man’s coupling with a pig. Despite the fact that the importer was the Perth Film Festival, the Commonwealth Censor refused to classify it.

The Film Board of Review then passed the film on appeal for both Festival and general audiences [it was for 1975 Perth International Film Festival only]. It was classified ‘R’ on the special condition that an introductory statement precede the opening title giving a detailed explanation of the film’s meaning.

– Cinema Papers No. 7

No more screenings possible

In December 1976, an 893-meter (81:22) 16mm print of VASE DE NOCES was Refused Registration. The 00:17 time increase may be due to the inclusion of the aforementioned title card.

An unsuccessful appeal was made to the Film Board of Review in April 1977. Their previous decision had allowed it for screening only at one film festival.

The applicant was the Australian Film Institute in Sydney. The AFI’s David Roe had previously established the Perth International Film Festival.

Film Festival censorship exemption

The VASE DE NOCES controversy was one of the reasons that the Perth International Film Festival ended.

July 1977
The recent demise of the Perth Film Festival has proved a sad, though perhaps inevitable, development, and could foreshadow similar problems for the world’s small, independent festivals.

Bursting onto the festival scene in 1972, it quickly established itself as a highly innovative event which vigorously promoted the independent film. Initially set up by David Roe (who later joined the Australian Film Institute as its director), it was run for the past three years-by Sylvie Le Clezio, with Roe as chairman.

In 1975, Perth successfully appealed against a ban on the Belgian entry, VASE DE NOCES, which the Western Australian government pressured the Commonwealth Censor into refusing registration, in a move that pre-empted the agreement guaranteeing freedom of censorship for festivals.

Not to be outdone, in 1976 the W.A. authorities threatened Perth with the physically impossible burden of having to submit every entry to the censor if it persisted in its intention of importing Nagasi Oshima’s EMPIRE OF THE SENSES [IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES]. The festival withdrew the film, only to see it shown without any fuss at this year’s [1977] Melbourne and Sydney festivals.

The Perth Festival was forced into demise by its financial position, a state of affairs not helped by an unsympathetic State government which has said that it doesn’t consider Perth’s programming sufficiently middle-of-the-road. If it is, the government says, it will make money and won’t need to be subsidised anyway.

– Perth Fest Nixed
– Cinema Papers No. 13

While Queensland was acquiring a reputation as the most conservative state in the Commonwealth, the Western Australian government was becoming nervous of the growing reputation of the Perth Film Festival for being even more daring in its choice of films than larger festivals in the eastern states.

In 1975 the government requested the commonwealth censors, in spite of the festival’s recognized censorship privileges, to view the festival entry WEDDING TROUGH. The board banned the film, but the appeal was upheld after festival chairman David Roe and the film’s director Thierry Zeno presented their case to the Film Board of Review.

The government was disturbed that it could do nothing about this decision, and so the following year the festival was informed that if it continued with plans to import Oshima’s EMPIRE OF THE SENSES [IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES] the Western Australian government would insist on the commonwealth censors viewing every festival film. This would have so delayed and hampered the festival that it was considered not worth the risk. The film was not shown in Perth, though it has since been shown without incident at both Melbourne and Sydney film festivals.

Meanwhile the Western Australian government introduced a proviso, like that still maintained in South Australia, that the minister retains final control over censorship decisions. It remains to be seen whether this power will be actively implemented, or kept in reserve as it is in South Australia.

– Film Censorship In Australia
– Ina Bertrand

The fight for film festival freedom would continue to rage on into the 2010s.

The sickest movie ever?

Simon reports.
Camera Obscura (de) – 2009 DVD – 78:52 (PAL)
Includes documentary OF PIGS AND MEN (2009)

VASE DE NOCES is a black and white art film, shot with one actor and no dialogue. So forget what you have read, it is not as outrageous as you have been led to believe.

There are only two controversial sequences. The first runs from 22:30 to 23:30 and shows the farmer (Dominique Garny) having sex with the pig. The second is at 71:00 and shows him eating shit. Both scenes are 100% fake.

In OF PIGS AND MEN (2009), Thierry Zéno talks about which of the two sequences were most uncomfortable for audiences.

‘When people reject the movie, I don’t think it’s because of the zoophilia. I think it’s shot with lots of discretion. I think it’s the second half with the coprophagy scenes that disturbs the viewers.’

I was more disturbed by the hanging bodies of the three piglets. In the documentary, he says the shot was achieved by using already dead piglets and that it is a question he has been asked many times.

I first heard of this film in 1984, when Rick Sullivan’ GORE GAZETTE No. 68. featured a shot of the farmer having sex with the pig on the cover. It was included because New Line Cinema was releasing it in New York in August of that year. The title had been changed to the more exploitative THE PIG FUCKING MOVIE. Presumably, this was New Line’s idea as it was certainly more 42nd Street friendly.

Cruel Horizon

Directed by Guy Lee Thys / 1989 / Belgium / IMDb

In September 1990, a 97-minute VHS of CRUEL HORIZON was passed with an R (Occasional graphic violence) rating.

The following month, a heavily censored 76-minute version was awarded an M (Frequent violence, Coarse language, Sexual allusions). At the time, an MA rating was unavailable as it was not introduced until May 1993.

The applicant, CBS/Fox Video, released the censored version on tape. The cover correctly labelled it as being M-rated, but mistakenly listed the ‘Occasional graphic violence’ consumer advice of the R-rated version.

Cruel Horizon (1989) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – CBS Fox Video

The R-rated tape does not appear to have been released. Presumably, CBS/Fox chose to remove 21-minutes of footage to appeal to a wider audience.

Man Bites Dog

Directed by Rémy Belvaux – André Bonzel – Benoît Poelvoorde / 1992 / Belgium / IMDb

In February 1993, a 92-minute 35mm print of MAN BITES DOG was refused by the OFLC due to ‘sexual violence’.

Newvision Film Distributors censored it down to 91-minutes and in March 1993 received an R (High level violence) rating.

September 17, 1993
The Belgian film MAN BITES DOG, was refused registration for one sequence of sexual violence, involving a graphic gang rape, considered indecent within the meaning of the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations. After substantial editing of this sequence the film was given an ‘R’ classification with a consumer advice of ‘high level violence’.

– Office of Film and Literature Classification
– Reports on Activities, 1992 to 1993

Censored video

In late 1993, 21st Century Pictures released MAN BITES DOG on VHS.

It ran 93:58 (NTSC) and censored the gang rape scene as follows.

Censored at 65:04 by 01:47
Before – Ben (Benoît Poelvoorde) bursts into a naked couple’s room, who then scream and attempt to run away.
Censored – Ben sings while holding a gun to the head of the man as both the filmmakers rape the girl. Ben then takes over raping the girl, while asking the man her name. The next shot is a slow pan over the disembowelled body of the woman.
After – The dead man sitting in the sink.

Man Bites Dog (1992) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – 21st Century Pictures

Censored TV

Terrestrial television screenings were on SBS in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Due to restrictions on R-rated content, the film had to be further cut to achieve an MA rating.

Their World Movies pay-TV channel was able to show the censored R-rated version.

Censored DVD

In 2001, Siren Entertainment released MAN BITES DOG on DVD.

Man Bites Dog (1992) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Siren

It ran 94:00 (NTSC) and contained the same cut print. The missing rape scene should have taken place at 65:06.