BBFC revised guidelines released

Stricter R18 certificate introduced.

by Jennie Kermode

The BBFC has today published its new guidelines, a result of extensive public research undertaken last year. These will come into force from 24 February.

Among other things, the guidelines include changes to the R18, or 'restricted' certificate, which means films can only be shown in specially licensed cinemas or sold by sex shops, and cannot be sold by mail order. This focuses primarily on restricting material involving sexual violence, with the BBFC having previously identified public concern over the comparatively casual way depictions of rape have been treated in film in comparison to other forms of violence, especially in light of the effect such depictions can have on survivors. The tightening up is likely to be conntroversial, however, as it could potentially cover anti-rape films like The Accused, while the extension of the rule to cover activity involving the infliction of pain and acts which may cause physical harm could impact films like Blue Velvet or Matador!

The BBFC has stressed that it will pay more attention to the theme and tone of films which may mitigate the above problems, but this is likely to have its most noticeable effect around the boundary between 12 and 15 films. Meanwhile, in response to public demand, the regulator is relaxing its rules about strong language in 15 films but is going to apply a blanket ban on potentially offensive words at U certificate level.

When classifying films, the psychological impact of horror is to be given more consideration, as some quite intense horror films have previously been given low age ratings because they did not score highly on factors like violence or gore.

Share this with others on...

Decisive moments Evelyn Schels on Marina Abramovic, Sigalit Landau, Shirin Neshat and Katharina Sieverding in Body Of Truth

Sense memories Robert Tinnell on Feast Of The Seven Fishes and family memories

Keeping his word Michael Apted in conversation on 63 Up

Talking about juxtapositions Thom Powers on dreams, fashion, identity, nature and bright spotlights in DOC NYC

Dedicated to DA Pennebaker Thom Powers on Martin Scorsese, Michael Apted, the Masters and Winner’s Circle in the tenth edition

EIFF goes coastal Free Film Fest on the Forth announced

More news and features

We're bring you coverage of the London Korean Film Festival and DOC NYC and the French Film Festival.

We're looking forward to Tallinn Black Nights and Welsh horror festival Abertoir.

We've recently been at the Valencia Film Festival, New York's NewFest, the Cambridge Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff, Manchester's Grimmfest, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival and the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Read our full for more.

Visit our festivals section.


More competitions coming soon.