Canada Border Services - Arbitrary Censors Gone Wild
Canada Border Services is up to its old nasty tricks again, seizing gay films destined for Ottawa's gay & lesbian Inside Out film festival. All three films have been shown in Canada before, and two of them are rated PG. But CBSA is insisting that it pre-screen all three films, a process they indicate may take up to 4 days - the films were slated to be viewed this weekend.
This sort of arbitrary censorship has been going on at CBSA for decades. Years ago, when I was on the board of the Making Scenes film festival (Ottawa's previous queer film festival), we held a screening of the documentary "Little Sisters, Big Brother", which tracked the decade-long efforts of the Little Sisters bookstore in Vancouver to fight against Canada Customs (now CBSA) seizure of its books. The courts sided with the bookstore. Back in the 1970s and early 80s, Canada Customs used to black out information pertaining to safe sex information because it was deemed pornographic - a thoroughly appalling practice in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Gay and lesbian bookstores and festivals face this issue all the time, and have ongoing troubles covering legal costs associated with gaining the release of their materials.
It's ridiculous that bookstores and film festivals are still having to go to court to have these materials released - and doubly so when the materials have already been shown in this country! Small, volunteer-run festivals don't have the resources for legal challenges; they can barely afford to pay for a part-time staff member. When their financial lifeblood - the films they screen - is seized, they risk financial ruin.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that sanity will prevail and that the festival pulls through. But given past experience with CBSA, I'm not counting on it.Recommend this Post