The directors of the Film4 Frightfest have decided not to screen the controversial A Serbian Film in light of almost four minutes of cuts to the film demanded by the British censor, the BBFC.
In a statement released to the press, FrightFest co-director Alan Jones said:
Film4 FrightFest has decided not to show A Serbian Film in a heavily cut version because, as a festival with a global integrity, we think a film of this nature should be shown in its entirety as per the director’s intention. Several film festivals across the world have already done so. Unlike the I Spit on Your Grave remake, where we are showing the BBFC certified print, as requested by Westminster Council, the issues and time-line complexities surrounding A Serbian Film make it impossible for us to screen it
I'm not surprised that Frightfest decided to drop A Serbian Film; it's been shrouded in controversy ever since it was announced as part of the programme. What does surprise me is the BBFC's decision to order such drastic cuts to a film that has been screened at other festivals this year – South by Southwest, in Texas, and Fantasia in Montreal – without a hitch.
This ruling, combined with the 40 seconds of cuts demanded for the remake of I Spit on Your Grave, seems a bizarre about-face for the BBFC, which in recent years has become a lot more relaxed about strong, adult content in films.
Last year we saw uncut releases of two previously banned films – Caligula, and Salo (both of which are still banned in Australia). Also released uncut in the past few years was been Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, which contained scenes of real sex.