The Sydney Film Festival has approached both the State and Federal Government in the hope that Ken Park can be shown twice next week as scheduled, despite the Classification Review Board upholding the Office of Film and Literature Classification's refusal to classify the film.
Australian film festivals do not ordinarily have to seek classification for their programmes, although the Classification Office has the right to ban a film. It was the little-known Queensland-based video distributor Independent Pictures which submitted the film for classification and the result means it cannot now be legally sold, hired or exhibited in Australia.
The Classification Board believes "the film deals with matters of sex in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should be refused classification".
Sydney Film Festival organisers are asking for clarification from the Classification Office on its use of the phrase "child sexual abuse" emphasising that the film depicts youths of 16 and 17 years but that the actors are all over the age of 18.
Ken Park, which was directed by Larry Clark and Ed Lachman, has screened at festivals all around the world, including in New Zealand, and parts of the NZ Classification Office's report are being used by the festival to justify its position.
"Some people will find Ken Park confronting and there is no doubt it divides audiences," says festival director Gayle Lake. "But at the very least there should be an opportunity for over 18-year-old audiences, in a festival context, to make up their own minds about the film."