Jail-sex video case `could affect future films'

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The Independent Online
An appeal against the refusal to grant a video viewing certificate to a film which features whippings and nude aerobics intended to send up female prison life could have widespread implications for other films, lawyers claimed yesterday.

Michael Grieve, a lawyer representing Redemption Films Limited, which was refused permission to distribute Bare Behind Bars last autumn, says the British Board of Film Classification's decision to refuse the film a certificate partly because teenage boys might be corrupted by it could lead to adult films being certificated or not according to whether they are likely to be seen by teenagers at home.

Last September James Ferman, director of the BBFC, argued that the film which shows female convicts, warders and a prison governor in a succession of sexual couplings, depicted an unacceptable level of enforced nudity and coercive sex.

He said: "The prison setting and coercive sex are designed to appeal to male fantasies of sexual power over women which, if acted out, could lead to behaviour of a socially reprehensible or criminal kind.

"To compound the problem, since this film could only be marketed as sexual titillation, it is more than likely to be drawn to the attention of teenage boys ... who may thus at an impressionable age pick up the link between forcible exposure and sexual excitation."

Before an appeal panel in London yesterday, Mr Grieve argued that Bare Behind Bars was an unexceptional video containing some soft-core sexual material marked more by spoof, humour and inept acting than the "morally corrosive" fare characteristic of the concentration camp/women's prison films which seek to create an erotic charge by "sexualising humiliation, degradation and the coercion of women".

Mr Grieve argued that the board had toughened its criteria in the wake of an amendment to the Video Recordings Act 1984 in November last year. This required the board to give particular thought to whether films of a sexual or violent nature might be seen at home by children or young adults irrespective of its adult classification.

He said that the film was intended for adult viewers and should be classified as such.

The case continues today.