Under 18s in France are now allowed to watch REAL sex scenes at the cinema

Minors in France are no longer automatically banned from going to see films that include real sex scenes, as the government looks to loosen the laws around film classifications.

Under 18s in France are now allowed to watch REAL sex scenes at the cinema
Screengrab from the trailer for Love.

The French have always been considered to have a mature attitude towards sex and they look set to prove it once again.

The ministry of culture has announced a change in law that automatically handed films containing non-simulated sex scenes an 18 certificate.

In other words if the actors are having real sex in a scene then minors will no longer be barred from being able to go to the cinema and see it.

The decree was published in the Journal Officiel on Thursday meaning it has now come into law.

The move to slacken the rules is being made by culture minister Audrey Azoulay who according to BFM TV will announce the decree in the coming weeks.

“The ban for under 18s will no longer be applied automatically to works that contain non-simulated sex scenes, but will be reserved for scenes of sex or violence that could seriously hurt the sensitivity of minors,” said the ministry of culture previously.

The controversy around the automatic ban regularly raises its head in France, most recently with the erotic 2015 film Love, a movie featuring lengthy, non-simulated sex scenes in 3D that was booed at the Cannes film festival and largely ridiculed by critics.

The film, directed by the Franco-Argentinian Gaspar Noé, was initially given an over-16 rating when it was released in French cinemas this summer. 

But after a lawsuit by a far-right group, the country's cinema classification board was forced to change it to an over 18 rating.

The director and the producer of Love say their film is a non-pornographic 3D exploration of the beauty of love-making.

They have argued that that changing the rating to over 18 was a fresh sign of the increasing influence of the ultra-conservative Catholic hard right in France.

The success of the far-right group angered former culture minister Fleur Pellerin, who vowed to “make things evolve, while respecting the protection of minors.”

A report last year by France's classification commission said the automatic ban on real sex scenes has become outdated in recent years because: “a scene can be very explicit on the screen while being totally simulated during filming.”

The report noted that many filmmakers deplored the automatic ban than can have serious repercussions on the financial success of the movie.

If a film is awarded an over 18 classification, rather than an over-16 means far fewer people are able to pay to see it in the cinema.

It also means big cinema chains in France like UGC or Pathé won’t show the film, because they have a policy of not showing films that are only for those aged over 18.

And when it comes to the television France has a law in place that states over 18 films can only be shown on paid-for channels.

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French film club for English speakers returns to cinemas

Lost in Frenchlation, a film club that screens French films with English subtitles in Paris, is returning to cinemas this weekend after holding virtual screenings during lockdown.

French film club for English speakers returns to cinemas

Wednesday saw the reopening of cafés, restaurants, museums, theatres and cinemas in France since October.

This means that Lost in Frenchlation can return to cinemas, and film buffs who struggle to watch French movies without English subtitles can meet up again this weekend at the Luminor Hotel de Ville where the first screening is taking place this Sunday.

READ ALSO: French cinemas face 400-film backlog as they prepare to reopen

What’s on the programme?

The first event taking place on Sunday, May 23rd is a screening of Albert Dupontel’se César awarded film “Adieu les cons” (Bye bye Morons), a comedy drama about a woman who tries to find her long-lost child with a help of a man in the middle of a burnout and a blind archivist.

On Sunday, May 30th there will be a Mother’s Day special screening of “Énorme”, comedy, starring Marina Foïs and Jonathan Cohen, at Club de l’Étoile in the 17th arrondissement in Paris. 

On Saturday, May 22nd, there will be a virtual screening of “Joli Mai” by Chris Marker (1963) which inspired the documentary film Le Joli Mai 2020. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Chris Marker specialist & journalist Jean-Michel Frodon.

Lost in Frenchlation is a company that sets up screenings of recent French film releases with English subtitles to give Paris’s large international community access to French culture and meet others in the same situation.

For more information, check out their website or sign up to their newsletter (link here).