Published: 3rd April 2009

BBFC Rejects Sexually Violent DVD

The BBFC has rejected the DVD NF713. This means that it cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. The decision was taken by the Director, David Cooke and the Presidential Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Alison Hastings and Gerard Lemos.

NF713 takes the form of an extended sequence in which a man tortures a woman psychologically, physically and sexually.  The woman is bound and restrained throughout.  The man employs a variety of techniques ranging from invasive questioning about her body and her sexual life to genital torture with forceps and electricity, makeshift waterboarding, beatings and forced urination.  The torture is unremitting and takes up the majority of the work's 73 minute running time.  Throughout large sections the woman is naked or semi-naked and her nudity is focussed upon, particularly in the later portions of the work.

In the Board's view, the primary purpose of NF713 is to sexually arouse the viewer at the sight of a woman being sexually humiliated, tortured and abused.  As such it constitutes a 'sex work', which is defined by the Board's Guidelines as a work whose 'primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation'.  The focus on the woman's naked, humiliated body together with the conventional BDSM aspects of the later part of the work lead credence to the view that sexual arousal is its primary intent.

The Board operates a strict policy on sex works and does not issue classification to such works if they depict non consensual sexual activity (whether real or simulated), the infliction of pain or physical harm (whether real or simulated) or sexual threats, humiliation or abuse that do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game.  NF713 focuses exclusively on these elements of non-consensual activity, pain, humiliation and abuse and takes the form of a dramatic scenario in which the viewer is invited to believe that what is being shown is 'real'.  Unlike many BDSM works it is not apparent that what is occurring is part of a consensual role play where the roles are clearly set out and, in any case, the Board's Guidelines preclude the kind of strong abuse on offer here, even if consent is established.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

"It is the Board's carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to NF713, even if statutorily confined to adults, would involve risk of harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, would be inconsistent with the Board's Guidelines, and would be unacceptable to the public.  The BBFC has a strict policy on rape and sexual violence.  With portrayals of sexual violence which might eroticise or endorse sexual assault the Board may require cuts at any classification level. "Rejecting a work outright is a serious matter and the Board considered whether the issue could be dealt with through cuts. However, given the unacceptable content featured throughout cutting the work is not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification."

Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act distributors have the right to appeal the Board's decision.

Note for Editors

The Video Recordings Act makes clear that harm is not to be interpreted narrowly as behavioural harm, but may also include more insidious risks, and the Board follows this approach in having regard to, for instance, moral harm and possible desensitisation. The correct legal definition of the harm test was clarified by Mr Justice Mitting in his ruling of 24 January 2008 at the High Court.  In that ruling he stated that 'The task of the Board [...] is to have special regard to any harm that may in future be caused to potential viewers'. The Act also makes clear that harm is not the only issue to be weighed in the balance.