Belfast City Council changes film certification for Irish language films

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A new Irish-language film has received a unique 16 certificate from Belfast City Council, in accordance with current rating standards in the Republic of Ireland.

For the second time this month, Belfast Council has introduced a new rating for films in Northern Ireland, awarding a rating of 16 to an Irish-language film titled ‘Foscadh’, which means refuge.

A decision has been made under a delegation of authority from the Strategic Director of Location and Economy to approve the film to be shown in Belfast cinemas on March 11 as part of an Irish film festival.

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The Irish Film Classification Board gave a rating of 16, which did not exist here prior to the council officer’s decision. Councilors took note of the council’s licensing committee’s decision on Wednesday, March 16.

The Licensing Board’s report says: ‘Until recently it was rare for a licensed cinema to seek permission to show a film which has not gone through the British Board of Film’s classification process.

“However, with the development of the local creative industries and film sector here, more films are being produced locally, many of which are unrated or unrated by the BBFC, but the demand for them to be shown in local cinemas is increasing.”

Earlier this month, the whole of Belfast Council agreed to follow the IFCO classification and give The Batman a 15A rating, allowing adult guardians to bring under-15s to the film.

This was against the British Board of Film Classification’s 15 rating for the film, which does not allow anyone under the age of 15 to see the film in the UK.

Future screenings of Foscadh are potentially scheduled at the Omniplex cinema at the Kennedy Center, the Movie House at Yorkgate and the Odeon in the city center.

The board’s report states: “Normally permission to exhibit the film is reviewed and given by the Licensing Committee. In this case, the request was received after the February Committee meeting and the March Committee meeting was too late to consider the March 11 proposed screening request.

“Discussions have taken place with Legal Services regarding the options available to the Board and therefore to the Strategic Director of Investment and Economics under his delegated authority.

“As there is no equivalent BBFC 16 rating that can be applied, three options have been identified as falling within the council’s legal jurisdiction – accepting the film to be shown with a 15 BBFC rating, accepting the film to be screened with an 18 BBFC rating, or agree to have the film screened and advertised as having an IFCO rating of 16.

“As the film has not been rated by the BBFC and there is no equivalent 16 rating, it was not deemed appropriate for officers to determine whether it should be shown with a BBFC 15 rating. or 18.

“IFCO guidance would suggest that a rating of 16 be applied to films that would historically have been rated as 18. The IFCO rating indicates that there is strong nudity/sex, violence and language in this film .

“The matter was discussed with the Chairman of the Licensing Committee and the proper course of action was taken to be that the film should be allowed to screen and advertised as having an IFCO rating of 16 only.”

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