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PG-rated gay film seized en route to Ottawa film fest

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PG-rated gay film seized en route to Ottawa film fest

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Border guards holding three movies as Inside Out scrambles to find solution
Canada's border guards are holding prints of three films destined for a gay film festival in Ottawa, and they won't release them until they've had the chance to watch them from beginning to end.

That poses a problem for Inside Out, a Toronto-based film festival with an annual Ottawa satellite program. They intended to show all three films this weekend. Without the prints, they're left scrambling to find grainy lower-quality copies to show audiences.

They're pissed.

"I was roving mad today," says Jason St-Laurent, Inside Out's programming director.

If they can't find a solution, the festival stands to lose thousands of dollars.

All three movies have been shown in Canada before. Patrik 1.5 is a PG-rated film about a gay couple's foibles adopting a child in Sweden. Clapham Junction is R-rated, but by no means obscene.

I Can't Think Straight, the other film seized, is a relatively mainstream movie which had a theatrical release this summer. It stars Lisa Ray.

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"It seems biased at some times, and at other times random," says St-Laurent. "But to me, this time, it is not a random event," he adds, pointing out that all three movies are distributed by the queer-focussed American entertainment company Here! It's impossible to say for sure, he says, because the federal agency has not given the festival any reason why it detained the films.

Initially, staff at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) flagged Clapham Junction, a film that contains some nudity. Then they added the two other films to the list of what they seized.

Because prints on film — rather than DVD copies — are so expensive, many smaller films only have one or two sets. Prints are shipped from festival to festival around the world, often with only a few days to get from one screening to another. CBSA officials told Inside Out it could be four days until the films are vetted, meaning the prints won't make it to the festival at all.

At Friday night's screening of Patrik 1.5, St-Laurent delivered the news to a packed house of queer film enthusiasts. The audiences hissed and booed at mention of the CBSA.



The gay community and the CBSA (formerly Canada Customs) have a long and checkered past. Border cops spent two decades harassing gay bookstores, with books and magazines arriving in Canada delayed by months or even shredded.

Vancouver-based bookstore Little Sister's took them to court and in 2000 won a partial victory. At the time, the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged that material was routinely being stopped at the border because of its gay content, and ordered the government agency to stop.

"It doesn't only happen to Little Sister's," St-Laurent told the audience, before playing a watermarked DVD copy of the film.

This is not Inside Out's first time being hassled when trying to bring films into the country. They regularly use a customs broker to get films that are stuck at the border released.

Inside Out has located a DVD copy of Clapham Junction, but is still scrambling to find a copy of I Can't Think Straight.  Each screening represents as much as $4,000 in revenue.

 

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Comments

shouldn't have to sneak around
Even if it were possible to bypass the CBSA border checks through whatever means the point is we shouldn't have to since we are legally entitled to import films into this country even if we are gay or lesbian or trans we shouldn't be getting treated any differently than any hetero folks importing hetero films yet we are, of much more concern to me personally was the story of a gay couple's laptop being seized because the CBSA agent saw some perfectly legal porn on it so decided that since they're gay there must be child porn or otherwise illegal material hidden away in there somewhere, apparently that isn't an uncommon occurrence and many gay folks have had their laptops seized by CBSA. This is unacceptable discrimination by our government's agents against gays, lesbians, and trans folk. We shouldn't have to be sneaky to cross the border into our own country safely or to import gay themed films. The procedures of the CBSA needs to change not us, I strongly encourage everyone to write their MP to complain not only about the films being seized but also all the other harassment faced by queers at the border entering our own country, the CBSA is supposed to be protecting us form real dangers like terrorists, gun smugglers and the like, they are not morality police and should never be accepted as such. We must fight back.
You are all WRONG
Digital projection DOES match film in quality and films ARE transmitted and projected digitally around the world today as we speak. This issue is not nearly as complicated as you leftist turds are making it out to be. Bunch of professional victims. Sorting out rights, formats and fees are not the issue. Stop being such pathetic wimps.
To Ron in Vancouver
Ron, you have no idea how a film festival works. Screener copies are expensive to distribute, especially if they've been licensed, meaning that copies have to be legitimate. Additionally, many of them have to be reformatted appropriately to be screened in a mass-theater.

Did you think it was as easy as playing a crappy rip? Is that how you think film screenings in theaters work? Maybe you should leave your computer and mass torrenting and spend some time in the real world and see how things really work before you mouth off about things you know nothing about.
Waste of resources
What a waste of resources for customs to watch a movie that's already been shown here. The censorship and the inefficiency is deplorable (four days to watch a two-hour movie)! UGH!
downloads no comparison to film
For film buffs a proper film print can't adequately be replaced by a usually illegal copy of the film downloaded through a bit torrent, they are even worse than DVD copies, keep in mind they aren't being shown on a small TV but rather projected onto a much larger screen which will amplify any of the faults in the copy not visible when watched on TV. For film buffs nothing but a film print will do, or perhaps a proper digital print if the film is being distributed in that format which is unlikely for smaller independent films and even then proper digital copies are not available for download through bit torrent. Most independent films are only available on film. Ron - I see that yet again you couldn't resist attacking and insulting people, way to go, for a second there I thought you might have finally posted a comment free from them but then I read your 3rd sentence.
To Biff in Burnaby..
Watching movies alone or within a group is not the issue here. It's the fact that distribution of information can now completely bypass useless government agents in the 21st century. Depending on a piece of celluloid to travel thousands of miles to watch a movie is as backwards as a poetry reading completely depending on the international shipment of a book. Get with the times...digital projectors today can match film in quality. Leftists are such little babies...they never waste an opportunity to scream and cry. Why don't you lefties think outside the box for once? Oh...and today's draconian customs rules are creations of LIBERALS.
Bugger bittorrent
Film festivals are about coming together to view films of community interest. The key word is community. Film brings people together to discuss common interests, to create dialogue through the communal experience of the expression of art. Sitting alone in front of a computer downloading things has little communal value. We are social creatures. Isolation decreases that, it robs us of our spirit. The shared experience creates community and nurtures the spirit. If people want to sit alone and view films and not discuss them, that is their choice. I'll take a theatre full of people wanting to engage in an art form and each other any day of the week. If that makes me a loser, I gladly accept the tag.
HOMOPHOBE Tyranny
This situation is nothing more than one or two taxpayer-paid clerks making a decision that empowers them in a boring and stoopid job. And unfortunately, like politicians, screaming loud does nothing but entrench them even further. The amount of taxpayer money spent protecting their fascism over the decades fighting Little Sisters is indicative of the little piggies at the trough who can never get enough - because we continue to pay for the stupidity that is called government. I am going to contact my MP (who happens to be a HarperClone) and ask him what percentage of my tax dollars goes to sending our young men and women to war where they are killed and killed others. I wonder if they'll imprison me as a conscientious objector to war and violence if I withhold this amount from my government mandated charity called taxes.
member of Parliament??
Unless yout MP is NDP, you'd be wastingg your time talking to hin/her.

I like Ken's (Paris, France)attitude. Remember Jim Egan!!
Look for other venues
Check with the Reel Affirmations group in Washington, DC; at least two of these films were just shown at the DC film festival. DVD copies may not be *perfect*, but still would be better to nothing, and even here in DC, I can't tell on the cinema screen what the source material is unless I get to the cinema early and see them setting up the material!

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