No anomaly in classified films

29th July 2005 at 01:00
It is not true that the British Film Institute is telling teachers to show 15-rated films to children under the age of 15 (TES, July 22).

At the Watch This! debate on July 13, organised by the BFI and the Barbican, I said teachers ought to be clear about the legal status of British Board of Film Classification certification.

It applies to cinema admissions, and in the case of DVDs and videos, to "supply" through sales and rental, and possibly loan.

Parents are therefore free to judge what it is appropriate to show their children, and may wish to use the BBFC certificates as guidance. Teachers are in a similar position legally. But common sense suggests teachers should seek parents' permission before showing films to children below the age indicated by the certificate, and should be sensitive to the interests and feelings of pupils when choosing films to study in school. This is the advice the BFI gives teachers, and I made that very clear during the debate.

The BFI's list of recommended films for children under 14 is drawn from institutions and people across the UK and Europe who have successfully shown the films they nominated with children in this age group. For UK teachers, this clearly raises issues in relation to certification, which we believe are worthy of public debate.

Cary Bazalgette

Head of Education British Film Institute. The editor writes: The original BFI list of films that every child should see by the age of 14 (based on recommendations by BFI staff) includes Billy Elliot, which is rated 15. The second BFI list (suggested by the Barbican conference), includes Show Me Love, also 15-rated (and titled Fucking Amal in other countries).

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