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Current Visiting Researchers

Past Visiting Researchers


Centre for Cinema Studies - Censorship


I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
S. G. Tallentyre, ‘The Friends of Voltaire’

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If only the cinema were free, it would be the eye of freedom.”
Luis Buñuel


The Centre for Cinema Studies sees film censorship as a key area for research development.

We are conducting research that sees censorship interventions as moments in the volatile historical relationship between films and the cultures in which they exist.

Instead of taking a normative standpoint, we study the censorship of cinema as an agent that influences the relationship between film and its publics, whatever their constitution. We also see film censorship as a broad mechanism that operates on various levels during the production, distribution, exhibition, and consumption of films. Our approach combines historical, sociological, aesthetic, and philosophical methodologies.

Our research aims to include studies of cuts to and bans of films in specific regions and eras. More generally, it also aims to contribute to debates about the role of film censorship in discourses on the liberty of artistic expression and the moral responsibilities of audiovisual representations.


Current initiatives:

Cross-national Comparative Research on Censorship: We are currently building an international collaboration with scholars from the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia in preparation for a funded research project on comparisons of policies and practices of censorship in various countries.

Film Censorship in British Columbia: We are exploring opportunities to investigate case studies of film censorship (or cries for such censorship) in the Canadian province of British Columbia, between 1900 and the present. Among the historical cases we are studying are rejections of and cuts to films with what was deemed unnecessary display of US flags, or inappropriate stories of fallen women. Among the more contemporary cases we are analyzing are In the Realm of the Senses, Caligula, and Bumfights.

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Film Censorship Reader: An anthology of writings on film censorship that encompasses the various research perspectives, and public attitudes, towards film censorship.

Past initiatives:

event image2009: Civil debate, moral panic or candid promotion? Lobby, legislature and the press in the reception of Canadian fiction cinema 1968-2008: This conference paper examines the use of clips and snippets from Canadian films alongside reports from three parties with stakes in film censorship in Canada: pressure groups seeking to influence policy, the legislature seeking to enact policy, and news broadcasters seeking to report on policy. In each case, footage from a small group of films (In Praise of Older Women, The Brood, Exotica, When Night is Falling, Ginger Snaps, Young People F***ing) was used to suit arguments for as well as against censorship.
Details of the paper can be found here

2007: Audiences and Receptions of Sexual Violence in Contemporary Cinema: This collaborative project was commissioned by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), to interrogate their policies towards films containing sexual violence and their ‘cut’ and ‘uncut’ releases, on various platforms, in the UK. The films whose audiences were studied are House on the Edge of the Park (1980), Baise-moi (2000), Ichi the Killer (2001), Á ma soeur (2001), and Irreversible (2002).
The report can be downloaded here

2001: “The Feminist and Historical Documentary Reconsidered: Mother Ireland: This is a chapter in Brian McIlroy’s Shooting to Kill: Filmmaking and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The chapter considers the temporarily banned and cut Channel 4 commisioned documentary Mother Ireland (1988) directed by Anne Crilly. It serves as an exemplar of censorship issues during the Margaret Thatcher era in the UK.
The book can be found here

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