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23rd February
2009
  

Category III...

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Film censorship in Hong Kong
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Cat III label At the beginning of February, media in China was buzzing about the possibility of a film rating system being put into place sometime this year. Although the story turned out to be incorrect, it still sparked yet another round of debate over the feasibility of implementing a rating system for mainland cinema.

In a blog post last week, film critic Wei Junzi discussed how Hong Kong's film rating system came about.

Men Behind the Sun , was a notable co-production that depicted the tragic biological experiments conducted by the Japanese invaders on Chinese people. According to Hong Kong media reports in 1988, the film censors vomited from disgust when they viewed the film and in one swift action, Category III films were born in Hong Kong.

Why was it only in 1988 that Hong Kong started having Category III films? Going back to the beginning, in March 1987, the English-language Asian Wall Street Journal disclosed that there was no legal foundation for Hong Kong film censorship, a revelation that caused instant controversy throughout the city. Creating a new film screening system, regardless of what it would eventually become, had to be put on the agenda immediately. Therefore the Hong Kong Executive and Legislative Councils quickly established a task force to deliberate a new Film Censorship Bill that would incorporate a motion picture rating system. On November 10, 1988, the Film Censorship Ordinance went into effect, and from that day forward, Hong Kong had a three-level film rating system:

  • Category I (All ages admitted)
  • Category II (All ages admitted, but the film had to carry the statement, Not suitable for children )
  • Category III (Persons aged 18 and above).

Subsequently, Hong Kong's film screening became substantially more permissive. Even though this led to the proliferation of films wallowing in sex and violence, at the same time, Hong Kong filmmakers obtained a good deal of creative freedom, and produced a stream of excellent works that broke through thematic taboos.

In 1995, Hong Kong's film censors changed the "three-level system" into a "four-level system." The main changes were to indicate the degree of nudity, sex, violence, crude language, and frightening content present, and divided the former Category II into:

  • Category IIA (Not suitable for children)
  • Category IIB (Not suitable for children or youth).

It is suggested that the proposed 2 level system for mainland China is

  • Category I (All ages admitted)
  • Category IIA (Not suitable for children)

World

World Censors' Links

World Ratings a useful guide from Answers.com
Australia Classification Board (previously Office of Film & Literature Classification)
Australia ACMA, Australian Communication and Media Authority, TV Censor
Austria Bundesministerium fr bildung, wissenschaft und kultur
Canada British Columbia - Consumer Protection BC whose remit includes film censorship
Canada Nova Scotia - Maritime Film Classification Board
Canada Québec - Régie du Cinéma
Canada Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Canada CBSA: Canada Border Services Agency maintains a list of banned films and books
Denmark Medieraadet, classifiers (Danish language)
Europe: PEGI Pan European Game Information
Finland VET, film classifiers who use the word 'classifiers' honestly
France Centre National de la cinématographie: Commission de Classification (French language)
Germany FSF, television regulators (German language)
Germany FSK, film & video censors (German language)
Germany USK, Computer game censors (German language)
Hong Kong Television & Entertainment Licensing Authority (Chinese & English)
Hungary Országos rádió és televízió testlet
India Central Board of Film Certification
India Indian Broadcasting Foundation and Broadcasting Content Complaint Council
Ireland Film Censor Office
Ireland Broadcasting Complaints Commission for radio & TV content
Ireland Censorship of Publications Board
Japan Eirin, Film Classification and Rating Committee
Kenya Film Classification Board
Malaysia Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF)
Malta Board Of Film And Stage Classification
Netherlands Kijkwijzer, self classification guidelines (Dutch & English)
New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC)
Nigeria National Film & Video Board (NFVCB)
Nigeria Kano State Censorship Board
Norway Norwegian Media Authority
Poland Krajowa Rada Radiowym i Telewizyjnym (KRRiT) TV & radio censors
Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA)
South Africa Film and Publication Board (FPB)
South Africa Broadcasting Complaints Commission South Africa (BCCSA)
South Korea Game Rating Board
South Korea KMRB, Korea Media Rating Board
Sweden Statens medieråd (Swedish Media Council) The site is Swedish & English language
Switzerland Commission du Cinéma du Canton de Genève & Vaud
UAE National Media Council
USA MPAA Censors, but at least their advice is voluntary
USA MPAA's Classification and Rating administration (CARA) searchable ratings website
USA ESRB Entertainment Software Ratings Board. Self assessed computer game ratings