A new Cayman Islands film censorship board, with responsibility for rating movies to be shown in the territory, is being set up.
The board will principally be responsible for censoring independent unrated movies, but also has the power to ban films and to reclassify mainstream movies already rated by international censors.
Proposed new legislation gives the board the remit to consider numerous factors, including whether the movie meets the standards of “morality, decency and propriety” of the community, when issuing rating certificates.
The Film Exhibition Control Bill aims to replace the old Cinematograph Law, which will be repealed if the new legislation is passed.
Anyone who wants to show a movie in the Cayman Islands will have to notify the new Film Control Board in advance. If the movie does not already carry a rating from internationally recognized film censors, the board will be tasked with considering its content and deciding what age group it is suitable for.
The board also has the option of banning a movie from being screened if it considers it “unsuitable for viewership in the islands.”
Movies that do carry international ratings, including the bulk of the mainstream movies shown at the Regal Camana Bay cinema, would not be required to apply for a rating.
But the board retains the option of reclassifying such films if it chooses.
The bill states, “The board may ascribe a contrary rating to a film in accordance with its rating policies and guidelines if it determines that the content of the film requires a rating different from that ascribed by a board of internationally recognized film censors.”
Films that do not carry a rating, such as locally made movies or some low-budget independent films shown at film festivals, will be required to pay a $25 fee to receive a rating before they can be screened.
The stated objective of the planned law includes protecting children from exposure to disturbing, harmful and adult content and informing the public of the content of a film.
The board, which will be appointed and paid a fee to be set by Cabinet, will comprise three members, including at least one person with relevant experience and qualifications, according to the proposed legislation.
The board can consider various factors when issuing a rating, including:
- Whether the content is seditious, obscene or blasphemous
- Portrayal of violence, nudity, drug use and offensive language
- The literary, artistic or educational merit of the movie
- Whether the film is in the public interest.
The bill establishes fines of $2,000, plus an additional $100 per day, for screening films in contravention of the rating certificate.
It also requires the board to advise on the issuing of premises licenses for public movie screenings and to monitor enforcement activities to “curb the exhibition of unsuitable films.”
The existing Cinematograph Law put movie censorship in the hands of a five-member Cinematograph Board, though it is not clear how active the board has been in recent years.
The bill would have to be debated and approved by the Legislative Assembly before it becomes law.