Passages Filmmaker Slams NC-17 Rating As 'Cultural Censorship'
'Passages' Filmmaker Slams NC-17 Rating As 'Cultural Censorship'
The queer romance has received an NC-17 rating, which filmmaker Ira Sachs is calling “censorship.”
Written and directed by Ira Sachs, Passages tells the story of a longtime gay couple in which one of the men has an affair with a woman.
The couple is played by Ben Whishaw (Martin) and Franz Rogowski (Tomas), and the woman that comes between them is Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos). This queer romance premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival earlier in January.
During an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Sachs slammed the Motion Picture Association (MPA) for giving the film an NC-17 rating. “There’s no untangling the film from what it is,” Sachs explained. “It is a film that is very open about the place of sexual experience in our lives. And to shift that now would be to create a very different movie.”
He added, “We hunger for movies that are in any proximity to our own experience. And to find a movie like this, which is then shut out, is, to me, depressing and reactionary. It’s really about a form of cultural censorship that is quite dangerous, particularly in a culture which is already battling, in such extreme ways, the possibility of LGBTQ+ imagery to exist.”
Passages distributor MUBI also reacted against the rating, writing in a statement: “Passages is an honest and groundbreaking portrait of contemporary relationships, both queer and straight. Frank and thoughtful portrayals of sex are essential to cinematic storytelling and in service of representation more broadly. An NC-17 rating suggests the film’s depiction of sex is explicit or gratuitous, which it is not, and that mainstream audiences will be offended by this portrayal, which we believe is also false.”
When asked for comment, the MPA also released a statement to defend its NC-17 rating of the film. “The MPA’s Classification and Rating Administration rates movies based on their content, what happens on screen, and how it is depicted.” the statement read. “The sexual orientation of a character or characters is not considered as part of the rating process.”
The culture war against LGBTQ+ people and projects is alive and well, so it’s understandable to hear this kind of reaction from the Passages filmmaker. Meanwhile, all we want is for queer content to be treated with the same guidelines as non-queer projects.
Passages opens August 4 in select theaters.