Subject: Explicit Sexuality
Medium: Film Video
Artist: Directed by Larry Clark and Ed Lachman.
Confronting Bodies: Australian government's Office of Film and Literature Classification
Dates of Action: June 6, 2003.
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Description of Artwork: Feature film attempting to deal with the personal and social difficulties facing four American teenagers.
The Incident: Australia’s OFLC, however, declared late last month that Ken Park “offended the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.” On June 6, a three-member OFLC review board rejected an appeal by film distributors and festival organizers, and upheld the previous decision. It claimed that the movie involved “child sexual abuse.”
Festival president Cathy Robinson told the media that the review panel had deliberately introduced the issue of “child sexual abuse” to confuse debate over the film. There were no grounds for banning Ken Park, she said, because the actors were not children, festival audiences were required to be over 18 years, and the issues raised by the film were serious and worthy of examination by adults.
The OFLC ruling, which affects film festivals and distribution companies throughout the country, makes it illegal to screen, hire or advertise Ken Park anywhere in Australia, with fines of A$11,000 and one year’s jail for individuals or A$250,000 for companies that defy the ban.
Past and present festival organisers have denounced the decision and called on film patrons to lobby federal parliamentarians. Appeals have also been made to the state Labor government in New South Wales to bypass the decision. Under current law, the state attorney general can give “Special Exemption” to allow a festival screening, but so far the NSW government has made no response or comment on the ban.
Results of Incident: Screening of Ken Park at the Sydney Film Festival canceled. Screening of the film American Splendor instead.