Catherine Breillat'scontroversial Fat Girl will bereleased uncut in Ontario, more than a year after its initial rejection by theCanadian province's censors. The film, which has screened uncut in severalother provinces, was waylaid in November 2001 by the Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB),which objected to the depiction of sexual activity by minors and sought anumber of cuts. Distributors Cowboy Pictures and Lions Gate Films appealed theOFRB's decision to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, where a hearing wasscheduled for February 2003. The distributors planned to argue that the OFRB'spower to ban films infringed on Canadian freedom of expression statutes.
But the OFRB side-steppedthe appellants by inviting them to resubmit the film and approving it -essentially an out-of-court settlement. In a statement, Cowboy Pictures'co-founder Noah Cowan suggested that the Ontario government knew it riskedlosing the case and, along with it, its powers of censoring films in thefuture. Craig Martin, a lawyer representing the companies, said the case shedlight on a flawed system.
"The Criminal Codecontains obscenity provisions that are designed to regulate the distribution ofmaterial that is determined to be obscene, and it is the police's function toenforce those provisions. We do not need a censorship board to duplicate theeffort, and the fact is that the Board has historically tried to regulatematerial that is not obscene, as it did in this case."
He said the critical issueis not the OFRB's function as a classifier of films but rather its power to banfilms that do not submit to its censorship demands.