Minors in France will no longer be automatically banned from going to see films that include real sex scenes, as the government looks to loosen the laws around film classifications.
The French have always been considered to have a mature attitude towards sex and they look set to prove it once again.
The ministry of culture is to announce a change in law that automatically hands films containing non-simulated sex scenes an 18 certificate.
In other words if the actors are having real sex in a scene then minors will no longer be barred from being able to go to the cinema and see it.
The move to slacken the rules is being made by culture minister Audrey Azoulay who according to BFM TV will announce the decree in the coming weeks.
“The ban for under 18s will no longer be applied automatically to works that contain non-simulated sex scenes, but will be reserved for scenes of sex or violence that could seriously hurt the sensitivity of minors,” said the ministry of culture.
The controversy around the automatic ban regularly raises its head in France, most recently with the erotic 2015 film Love, a movie featuring lengthy, non-simulated sex scenes in 3D that was booed at the Cannes film festival and largely ridiculed by critics.
The film, directed by the Franco-Argentinian Gaspar Noé, was initially given an over-16 rating when it was released in French cinemas this summer.
But after a lawsuit by a far-right group, the country’s cinema classification board was forced to change it to an over 18 rating.
The director and the producer of Love say their film is a non-pornographic 3D exploration of the beauty of love-making.
They have argued that that changing the rating to over 18 was a fresh sign of the increasing influence of the ultra-conservative Catholic hard right in France.
The success of the far-right group angered former culture minister Fleur Pellerin, who vowed to “make things evolve, while respecting the protection of minors.”
A report last year by France’s classification commission said the automatic ban on real sex scenes has become outdated in recent years because: “a scene can be very explicit on the screen while being totally simulated during filming.”
The report noted that many filmmakers deplored the automatic ban than can have serious repercussions on the financial success of the movie.
If a film is awarded an over 18 classification, rather than an over-16 means far fewer people are able to pay to see it in the cinema.
It also means big cinema chains in France like UGC or Pathé won’t show the film, because they have a policy of not showing films that are only for those aged over 18.
And when it comes to the television France has a law in place that states over 18 films can only be shown on paid-for channels.