Warnings about self-harm and bullying proposed for film screenings in Ireland

Irish Film Classification Office puts new draft guidelines out to public consultation

The Irish Film Classification Office has included advisories for self-harm and bullying in its draft guidelines. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Future film classifications in the Republic could include warnings on self-harm or bullying in movies.

The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO), which marked 100 years in existence last year, has included advisories for self-harm and bullying in its draft guidelines that have gone out for public consultation.

The public will be invited to make contributions to how films are classified and what advisories relating to issues such as sex and violence should be included before films start

The draft guidelines were based on a Behaviour & Attitudes survey examining the public’s views on the suitability of existing classification guidelines.

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The research specifically sought feedback from parents on the portrayal of young people on screen and the importance of context in classification.

It indicated that among teenagers, sexual violence, suicide and the portrayal of young people are the areas where guidance and boundaries are most needed, along with content that can be seen to impact on mental health.

The revised guidelines respond to this finding by expanding the ‘drugs’ category. Now entitled ‘dangerous behaviour’ it is proposed to include self-harm, drug misuse, criminal activity and antisocial behaviour.

Director of film classification Dr Ciarán Kissane said it is planned to classify all these under ‘dangerous behaviour’ rather than have a category for each.

Classification brackets will remain the same consisting of G (general), PG (parental guidance), 12A (suitable for under-12s accompanied by parents), 15A (suitable for under-15s, but only if accompanied by a parent), 16 (not suitable for children under 16) and 18 (not suitable for anyone under the age of 18)

The days when the Irish Film Censor’s Office was noted for severe censorship are long over.

The last film banned in Ireland was in 2005, but, in an age of limitless content online, such a measure is seen as not feasible nor desirable any more.

Last year three-quarters of all films were deemed suitable for 15A and under. Just two per cent of films were deemed to be unsuitable for under-18s.

The most complained-about film was the Tom Hanks film The Man Called Otto, which was the subject of seven complaints out of 26 received by IFCO.

The IFCO annual report reveals Barbie and Oppenheimer were the two biggest box office hits in Ireland last year.

Barbie grossed almost €10 million at the Irish box office and Oppenheimer almost €6.5 million. The rest of the top 10 was made up of blockbuster films.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times