Films With Graphic Rape Scenes Could Be Restricted To Adult Audiences Only

Steven Hopkins
Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star in Wind River, above

Films featuring scenes of rape or sexual violence could be restricted to adults following growing public concerns in the wake of the #MeToo movement, reports suggest.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is said to have conducted preliminary research showing increasing concerns around the depiction of sexual violence and its availability to teenage audiences, The Times reported on Friday. 

The initial finding were said to have been outlined on Thursday by the BBFC’s chief executive, David Austin, at a conference organised by the NSPCC.

If the finding is confirmed during the next stage of research, the newspaper said, the BBFC board will raise its age rating for films, DVDs and websites that deal with rape, from 15 to 18.

The BBFC told HuffPost that while films depicting rape and sexual violence may be classified for adults only, “not all” films will be. 

“It is not the case that we are considering restricting all depictions of rape and sexual violence to adults only. Rather, some public research we have recently undertaken suggests the public feel some of the material we have classified 15 in the past may be more appropriately classified at 18 in the future,” a spokesperson said. 

The board is consulting with 10,000 people to check that its classifications reflect public opinion, something it does every five years. 

The Times said the first part of the survey asked panels of adults and teenagers to view scenes from two 15-rated films that feature rape themes.

One was Wind River, a contemporary western that includes a scene showing the rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman. The second was In Between. 

The group were also shown a clip from The Innocents and asked whether it was rightly classified at 15, when it had received less restrictive classifications elsewhere. 

The BBFC said the groups suggested that some material currently classified 15 “should perhaps be classified 18 in future”, specifically Wind River and In Between.