Italy brings the curtain down on state censorship of films

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By Euronews
People sit in a cinema in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 15, 2020
People sit in a cinema in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 15, 2020   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

For more than a century, many directors have fallen foul of Italy's film censorship laws. But now state intervention into artistic freedom is over as the government has called time on the censorship of films on moral or religious grounds.

Instead, filmmakers will classify their own movies based on the age of the audience. These decisions will then be verified by a commission of 49 members chosen from the film industry.

Hundreds of films have been censored in Italy, most famously Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 classic "Last Tango In Paris". 

Thousands more were modified including works by director Federico Fellini.

According to a survey by Cinecensura, an online exhibition promoted by the culture ministry, 274 Italian films, 130 American movies and 321 from other countries have been censured in Italy since 1944.

The last major case of censorship was in 1998 with the blasphemous and grotesque "Toto Who Lived Twice", which was strongly criticised by traditional Catholics.

Dr Stefano Baschiera, a senior lecturer in film studies at Queen's University Belfast, says ending state censorship is something producers have wanted for a long time.

"This is the first time that we have a sort of self-regulation in the industry in Italy, instead of state control," he said. "Producers want to follow the American system, but more significantly, the commission cannot prohibit the distribution of a film or demand cuts and other changes in the text if a film is deemed problematic."

Hear more from Dr Baschiera in the video player, above