Sex Films and Censorship

The Philippine Case

19601975: ARTISTIC
COMPROMISE

The Situation Then…
 Labor

movement in Manila: A pressure to the film studios  Domination of foreign films in the local box office
Influence

of soft-core American sex films and European sex melodramas

Results
 Proliferation
Making

of exploitation films
pictures on perproduction basis using themes that draw the audience Usual subject matter: Sex and violence

The ‘Bomba’ Genre in Different Periods
 first

‘bomba’ films (1970 to 1974)  wet look (1974 to late 1970’s)  bold (late 1970’s to 1989)  sex trip (ST, 1990’s)

The Current Situation
 No

more sex films obviously representative of the then ‘bomba’ genre  Current trend: ‘sanitized sex flicks’ and sex education videos and manuals
 

Frequency of sanitized sex flicks: 1 to 3 (average, 2000-present) Sex education videos distributed by mainstream film companies

 Pink

films as ‘bomba’

REGULATION AND CENSORSHIP

Sex Films:

Art or Pornography?

Art film
 Succeeds,

to a significant degree, in:
Communicating

to its audience an insight into the meaning of the human condition, through stories that revolve around personal and/or social problems Harnessing the various aspects of cinema to drive

Pornography
 Overrides

all other elements of cinema to its overriding concern with sexual stimulation  Photographs sexual organs and sexual movements with no other reason but to arouse the moviegoers sexually  ‘Erotic art’
Well-made,

artisticallyexecuted pornography

Obscenity
“Such

indecency as is calculated to promote the violation of the law and the general corruption of morals.” (Miller v. California, US Supreme Court, 1983, as cited in Pita v. Court of Appeals, RP Supreme Court, 1982)

Material is obscene if:
The

average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interests. The work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state (or federal) law, and; The work taken as a whole, lacks serious, artistic, political or scientific value.

Censorship
 Denial

of an application for government permission as a requisite before the publishing and/or reproduction of any printed or multimedia material  Legal operative term: prior restraint

Movie and Television Review Classification Board
 Primary

government agency responsible for the regulation, classification, and prohibition of motion pictures produced locally and internationally

The MTRCB Family

Ma. Consoliza P. Laguardia
Chairperson A R D B O

Editha Guico-Demetria
Executive Director

M E M B E R S

Atty. Zosimo Fr. Nicasio D. Ricardo T. Rachel B. G. Alegre Cruz, SJ Leon Del Mar

Herminio C. Bautista

Msgr. Nico P. June Keithley Ma. Cristina Bautista Castro C. Concordia

Atty. Paulino E. Cases, Jr.

Atty. Marc B. Castrodes De

Jacqueline Betty I. A. Gavino Molina

Mario A. Edgar M. Hernando Morada

Marra PL. Lanot

Teresita M. Lazatin

Michael D.R. Mallari

Atty. Eric F. Mallonga

Angelo S. Mendez

Marquita N. Mendoza

Orlando Teresita B.

Lucia Singson Alfred A.

Ma. Carmela

Sheila M.

Ma. Progena

Edmund L.

Benedicto H.

Katherine

Powers and duties:
To

approve or disapprove, delete objectionable portions from and/or prohibit the importation, exportation, production, copying, distribution, sale, lease, exhibition and/or television broadcast of the motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials… (Section 3c) To cause the prosecution, on behalf of the People of the Philippines, of violators of this Act, of anti-trust, obscenity, censorship and other laws pertinent to the movie and television industry (Section 3i)

A History of ‘Bomba’ Films and Censorship

1970
 Uhaw

(Thirst) ushered in the ‘bomba’ genre in Philippine cinema.

1972

Along with the declaration of Martial Law, exploitation of sex as a subject matter in Filipino films prompted the then Board of Censors for Motion Pictures (BCMP), to clamp down on bomba films, issuing periodic sanctions against them. As a response, film producers invested on not-sodaring bomba films (showing ‘artistic’ nudity).

1982
 The

Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (ECP) was founded with the mandate of ‘ushering in a new era of cinematic excellence.’ The films it produced were exempted from prior restraint. The agency produced during the year critically-acclaimed films such as Himala and Oro, Plata, Mata.

1984

ECP started to exhibit bold ‘artistic’ films at the Manila Film Center to generate income. Films such as Isla (1984), Scorpio Nights (1985), and The Boatman (Ang Bangkero, 1985) were shown uncensored. ECP, then under chief executive officer Johnny Litton, defended the showing of such films as ‘expanding the parameters of human experience’ (not as a purveyor of sex films).

1985
 The

BRMPT was replaced by the current MTRCB (founded on October 5) with former senator Maria Kalaw Katigbak as its first chairperson.

1986
 ‘Bomba’

films declined during the term of then MTRCB Chair Manuel Morato. Many professionals in the film industry protested his strict application of censorship in films. Morato held the position until 1992.

1993
 Then

MTRCB Chair Henrietta Mendez was criticized for prohibiting the showing of “Schindler’s List” (was given an “X” rating due to the scenes on naked Jews during the Holocaust).

1998
 Former

President Joseph Estrada appointed close friend and film producer Armida Siguion-Reyna as MTRCB chair. She was somewhat lenient in imposing rules and regulations on ST films.

2001

President Gloria MacapagalArroyo banned the film Live Show due to pressures from the Roman Catholic Church. No less than former Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin† denounced it as ‘immoral.’ Arroyo’s decision overruled the decision of MTRCB under then Chair Nicanor Tiongson, who later resigned.

References
 

David, J. (1995). Fleshmongering. Fields of Vision: Critical applications in recent Philippine cinema. Quezon City: AdMU Press. 112-114. De Vega, G. (1995). Censorship and film art. Film and freedom: Movie censorship in the Philippines. 28-43. Lumbera, B.L. (1983). Problems in Philippine film history. Readings in Philippine cinema. (R. Ma. Guerrero, ed.). Manila: Experimental Cinema of the Philippines. Lumbera, B.L. (1992). Pelikula: An essay on the Philippine film: 1961-1992. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (n.d.). Historical sketch and profile of the MTRCB. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Republic of the Philippines, Office of the President. Retrieved September 8, 2008 from http://www.mtrcb.gov.ph/about/-history.php. Philippine film (1994). The CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine art. (N.G. Tiongson, editor-in-chief). Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. 84-85.

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