R rating upheld for ‘obscene’ Mexican movieThe Seoul Administrative Court on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit filed by a local movie distributor which had asked the Korea Media Rating Board to repeal its decision to give an R (restricted) rating to the Mexican film “Battle in Heaven.”
The distributor, World Cinema, said the movie is an art film despite explicit sexual images, and the rating should be lowered.
Battle in Heaven competed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, and was deemed an artistic film by the Korean Film Council. The court, however, ruled that a tenth of the movie is obscene, thus making it difficult to account it an art film.
“Genitals of both sexes were revealed explicitly and sexual images predominate in this entire film,” said Kim Hong-do, the presiding judge. “It’s hard for a normal individual to comprehend the director’s intent. The sexual scenes are embarrassing and provocative.
“Therefore, it’s hard to think that artistry could mitigate the movie’s lasciviousness and obscenity.”
In the 98-minute film, the main character kidnaps a baby for ransom but is traumatized after the infant dies. To relieve his guilt, he seeks sexual pleasure with his boss’ daughter, but kills her after he catches her with another man. Sexual scenes and the display of genitals account for 9 minutes and 24 seconds of the film.
In 2004, World Cinema sought a rating for the film from the Korea Media Rating Board, and it was twice rated R. The Constitutional Court ruled in July 2008 that the board’s rating system is incompatible with the Constitution and ordered that the legislative provision related to the film ratings be revised.
Last April, World Cinema filed a third lawsuit with the Seoul Administrative Court after the board again rated the controversial movie R, despite the Constitutional Court’s change to the law governing movie ratings.
Byeon Seok-jong, the head of the World Cinema, said on Tuesday that he will appeal the decision after discussing details with his attorney.
An R rating virtually bans a film from being shown in Korea, as it restricts screenings to theaters allowed to show R-rated films to audiences over the age of 19, and no such theaters exist. In addition, an R-rated film may not be advertised or released on DVD, making it hard for a distributor to profit.
By Choe Sun-uk, Kim Mi-ju [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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