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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Film censors ask cutting questions
Tomb Raider film still
Computer game-inspired Tomb Raider was cut
By BBC News Online's Darren Waters

Film censors are canvassing the opinion of young people in the UK to find out their views on censorship and sex and violence in movies.

Over the next 18 months the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be speaking to hundreds of school children across the country as part of project to stay touch with young audiences.

I think there should be more censorship

Catherine Nalvyima
Last year all but one of the 12 films cut by censors in the UK were aimed primarily at teenagers under 17-years-old.

The latest film to be edited on the orders of the BBFC is Tomb Raider, which is currently top of the box office charts.

'Extensive research'

Penny Averill, deputy director of the BBFC, told BBC News Online: "Last year we conducted very extensive research before publishing our most recent guidelines on film classification.

"But we were very aware that a large percentage of cinemagoers are under 18 and we wanted to hear their views."

The BBFC is holding a series of roadshows across the UK in the next 12 months to hear those opinions. The first one was held in east London on Tuesday.

Video clips

Currently the BBFC issues six different classifications - U for all audiences, 12, PG (parental guidance), 15, 18 and 18R (restricted) - with a series of guidelines which determine which classification a film receives.

They should not have cut Tomb Raider

Abdullah Mohammed
But the roadshows do not mean that the BBFC is about to loosen or change its guidelines in the near future.

"We do not want to change our guidelines in the next month or two but it is important to take account of their views," said Ms Averill.

The BBFC showed the school children a range of film and video clips and explained the reasons behind each classification before inviting their opinions.

More than 80% of films released in the UK last year were given a 15 or lower classification. Six PG films, four 12 films and one 15 certificate film had to be cut in order to be granted their classifications.

'More censorship'

"They may feel that we are telling them what they can and can't do and there is always a danger that parents and adults are out of touch with the feelings of younger people," said Ms Averill.

There is a natural rebelliousness against authority and that can be healthy

Penny Averill, BBFC
But many of the teenagers were supportive of the work of the BBFC and the need for censorship.

"I think there should be more censorship," said 16-yar-old Catherine Nalvyima.

"Films are becoming more graphic, especially DVDs. I don't think we should see so much sex in films."

Seventeen-year-old Adam Ryan agreed: "There are a lot of films coming out and there should be a borderline.

"We have to progress and see things at a right age. It should come at a steady level."

Future policy

Sixteen-year-old Abdullah Mohammed added: "There should be censorship for some kinds of films but they should not have cut Tomb Raider."

Ms Averill said she was surprised at how censorious some of the children were.

The views from all the teenagers will be compiled and published in a report which will help determine future policy at the BBFC.

"I was very impressed with their maturity. One young woman asked why she could walk into a book shop and buy a book about serial killers yet would not be allowed to watch a film version of it."

She added: "There is a natural rebelliousness against authority and that can be healthy."

See also:

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28 Jun 01 | New Media
Q&A: The man who made Lara
07 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Jolie lands Lara role
14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Censors relax film guidelines
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