Cinema, Italy says goodbye to censorship

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The criminal trial and the burning of Last Tango in Paris in 1976 (despite Bertolucci’s appeal to the then President of the Republic Leone, with the concession to save only three copies in custody at the Cineteca Nazionale as the body of the crime) is the most striking historical event but certainly not the only one.

Italian cinematography counts dozens and dozens of cases of censorship, including the most recent Totò who lived twice by Ciprì and Maresco in 1998. After the niet to 274 Italian films, 130 American and 321 from other countries out of 34,433 feature films subjected to censorship from ’44 to today and 10092, admitted after modifications, a good third of the total, according to the census made on the occasion of the permanent exhibition of the Ministry of Culture, Cinecensura, all this goes to the archives.

The minister Dario Franceschini signed the decree that definitively abolishes film censorship, a long awaited provision, which sets aside «that system of checks and interventions which still allowed the state to intervene on the freedom of artists ”, as he underlined. And the Commission for the classification of cinematographic works has been set up at the Directorate General for Cinema of the Ministry of Culture with the task of verifying the correct classification of cinematographic works by the operators. In other words, «a kind of self-regulation – explains in detail to Ansa Nicola Borrelli, director of the Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual – will be the manufacturers or distributors to self-classify the cinematographic work, to the commission the task of validating the congruity ». This applies to theatrical release, it should be specified because the parental control system applies to platforms (and therefore the responsibility is delegated to the family). The classification is proportionate to the needs of child protection and the protection of minors, with particular regard to sensitivity and personality development proper to each age group and respect for human dignity.

So i movies are classifiable based on the target audience: works for everyone; works not suitable for children under 6; works forbidden to minors under the age of 14 (but at 12 years of age and with a parent you can see them) e works prohibited to minors under the age of 18 (but at 16 and with a parent you can see them). “The Commission verifies the correct classification, proposed by operators in the cinema sector”, specifies Borrelli. Composed of 49 members including the President (the President emeritus of the Council of State, Alessandro Pajno has been appointed), in respect of gender balance, it will have a duration of 3 years and will include sociologists, pedagogists, psychologists, scholars, experts of cinema (critics, scholars or authors), educators, magistrates, lawyers, representatives of parents’ associations and even environmentalists.

To make the classification more understandable i advertising materials will have icons indicating the presence of any content deemed sensitive for the protection of minors, including violence, sex, use of weapons or foul language.

Film censorship has an ancient history: was born almost simultaneously with the diffusion, in Italy, of cinema and precisely with the Royal Decree n. 532 of May 31, 1914, through which the regulation for the execution of the Facta Law is approved. Over the course of over 100 years the very concept of censorship has changed, passing from severe political and social control to a cinematographic review, more properly administrative. And so from the role of strict political, moral and religious supervision (not by chance before it was the Minister himself who signed the documents himself), the film review commissions have kept from the past, above all, their attention to the protection of minors. The system of censorship in force until now had its final destination in the review meetings of the commissions but well before in the process of realization and even of conception we worked on censorship: in the writing phase, in the definition of the productive means, between opportunist advice and real bargaining because to access the subsidized cinema credits, as well as ministerial recognition, it was necessary to arrive without the risk of censorship. Some authors who tried an independent way of production, such as Fellini and Lattuada for Luci del varietal or Lizzani for Attention! Banditi!, were punished with partial or total refusal by the censorship commissions, the exhibition historically recalls Cinecensura. Among the many striking cases that today would make us smile The beach by Alberto Lattuada (1954), even Totò and Carolina by Monicelli (1955), Rocco and his brothers, The sweet life, The adventure, Sweet deceptions, The girl in the shop window, The hunchback, the same The sweet life O Ricotta by Pasolini, without forgetting the hard films of the time such as The Honorable likes women with Buzzanca.

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