R rating upheld for ‘obscene’ Mexican movie

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R rating upheld for ‘obscene’ Mexican movie

The 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 [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

외설논란 `천국의 전쟁`, 3번째 제한상영가 판정

외설 논란에 휘말려 수년째 개봉이 보류 중인 영화 '천국의 전쟁'이 다시 한번 제한상영가 등급을 받았다.

서울행정법원 행정6부(부장판사 김홍도)는 '천국의 전쟁'을 수입한 월드시네마가 영상물등급위원회를 상대로 낸 제한상영과 등급분류결정 최소소송에서 원고패소 판결했다고 9일 밝혔다.

재판부는 "성행위 또는 유사 장면의 상영시간이 10% 정도로 상당한 부분을 차지하고, 남녀 성기나 음모를 노출하는 등 성적인 이미지가 영화 전체를 지배하고 있다"며 "보통사람으로서는 성적인 상상을 하거나 수치심을 느끼는 것 외에 감독의 의도를 생각할 여지가 없다"고 밝혔다.

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