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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 01:52 GMT 02:52 UK
French film sparks censorship row
Cannes 2000
The film was shown at Cannes in May
A protest has been held outside a Paris cinema over the decision of France's highest legal body, the State Council, to withdraw certification from a violent, sexually explicit new film.

The council decided that the film - the title of which refers to an obscene sexual command - was pure pornography with no artistic merit, and could not be shown in mainstream cinemas.

The BBC Paris correspondent says many critics agreed, but other cultural figures rushed to defend it, and organised the protest outside one of the few cinemas in Paris prepared to defy the law and carry on screening it.

The film is an unbroken series of extremely crude sex scenes and of images of particular violence, [and] may deeply disturb certain spectators

State Council
They also had tacit support from the French Culture Minister, Catherine Tasca. She said the court ruling raised the prospect of a return to state censorship.

In an illustration of the controversy over the title, many of those people who went to see the film asked for tickets to "Fais-Moi L'Amour" or "Make Love to Me" - a watered down version of the actual words used.

Considered a road movie, the film is the story of two young women, played by a former prostitute and pornography star, who team up in a rampage of mindless sex and violence.

It is purportedly meant to reflect society's brutal treatment of women.

The film is convincing because of its darkness and desperation

Cinema magazine Positif
The film, by female directors, Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Tri, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

It then passed largely unnoticed, after passing France's film censorship board, until a family values group expressed their outrage.

On 23 June, the group Promouvoir contested the censor's decision on the grounds that youngsters in the 16-to-18 age bracket needed greater protection, a view upheld by the State Council.

The council justified its decision to exile the film to country's few X-rated cinemas by describing it as "an unbroken series of extremely crude sex scenes and of images of particular violence, [and] may deeply disturb certain spectators," the council said.

Bruno Megret, leader of the far-right National Republican Movement, congratulated the council for "blocking an attempt at dissolution of our civilised values sought by the film's promoters."

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