Venue for 'Crash' premiere in doubt

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Crash, the controversial film about a group of people sexually aroused by car accidents, may be denied a central London premiere despite its 18 certificate granted by the British Board of Film Classification. A date for the premiere will not be set until a release date for Britain has been named by the distributors, Columbia TriStar.

Although the BBFC said this week that the film, based on the novel by JG Ballard, could be shown uncut to adult audiences, Westminster Council has not withdrawn the ban it imposed last year. If it refuses to do so, the only possible venue in central London for a premiere will be the Institute of Contemporary Arts which is outside the council's licensing jurisdiction. Otherwise, the venue could be one of the "art house" cinemas just outside the city centre.

A spokeswoman for Columbia TriStar said yesterday: "What we hope is that in the light of the BBFC decision Westminster Council will review their position."

The film directed by David Cronenberg, who defends it as "a metaphor", will open uncut in the United States tomorrow. But in Britain there is still opposition, with Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, renewing her call that it should not be shown.

But although Crash, starring Oscar winner Holly Hunter, Rosanna Arquette and James Spader, demands a strong stomach, its sterile atmosphere and stress on the unsatisfactory nature of the characters' relationships acts against any glam- orisation of its subject matter.

A spokesman for Westminster Council said yesterday: "In the light of the BBFC ruling, Westminster's licensing sub-committee will review its decision made last November."

The BBFC's director, James Ferman, ruled the "unusual and disturbing film" was neither illegal nor harmful. It said it was shown to a top lawyer, forensic psychologist and audience of disabled people before an 18 certificate was granted.

Thomas Sutcliffe, The Tabloid