Australian distributor Potential Films has lodged an appealagainst a decision by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC)to ban French film Romance. Inaddition the film's director Catherine Breillat has written to the to theOFLC's Review Board to protest the decision.

The film was banned because of the explicitness of its sexscenes but the board was divided on the issue. The final decision was made oneight votes to seven.

"I was surprised because of the film's history ofacceptance around the world and because it is obviously a serious work ofintegrity," said Potential's Mark Spratt. "I knew the realistic sexscenes were up against the OFLC guidelines but thought the film would get an R(restricted) rating with a consumer warning because of the general principlesabout adults being free to see what they like providing minors areprotected."

The film was shown several times at the Melbourne FilmFestival last year and there has been widespread media protest about thedecision.

"It is intolerable that such a major arthouse film canbe treated like this. There is no provision for serious works for adults thatare not pornography. The rules say the sex must be simulated," said Spratt,who jokes that he should run package tours to New Zealand where the film hasgot through the classification process with no cuts and a rating restricting itto consumers 18 years and over.

Breillat said she was shocked by the treatment of her sixthfilm and noted that no other French film has been sold in as many territories.She added that the film has even been released uncut in Turkey where it was abox office success.

"What I wanted to show was not provocative but deeplythought and felt as a female director," Breillat said in an open letter."Nudity, love and sex are part of our daily life and if my film issexually explicit, it has nothing to do with a porn movie. It is rather theopposite approach, as a critic of the prestigious UK magazine Time Out hasnoticed, calling it an 'anti-porn movie'."

The last big film to be banned in Australia was Pier PaoloPasolini's Salo. This occurred in1998 after an appeal by the Queensland Government against its original R18+rating.