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Italy Abolishes Film Censorship, Ending Government Power to Ban Movies

Italy has officially abolished film censorship by scrapping legislation that since 1913 has allowed the government to censor scenes and ban movies such as, most famously, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom” and Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Last Tango in Paris.”

The move — which is symbolically important, though censorship is de-facto no longer practiced — definitively does away with “the system of controls and interventions that still allowed the Italian state to intervene on the freedom of artists,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini who late Monday announced a new decree ending the government’s powers to censor cinema. 

Hundreds of films from all over the world have been banned locally during the past decades for religious, “moral” and political reasons. 

Under the new decree, film distributors will self-classify their own movies based on existing audience age brackets such as “over-14? (or aged 12+ if accompanied by a parent) and “over 18” (or 16+ accompanied by adults).

Subsequently, a new commission of film industry figures, as well as education experts and animal rights activists, will review the film’s classification.

“It’s an epochal change that the industry was strongly pushing for and will usher in self-regulation,” said 01 Distribution chief Luigi Lonigro, who is head of Italy’s distributors, in a statement.

According to a survey by Cinecensura, a permanent online exhibition promoted by the Italian Culture Ministry, 274 Italian films, 130 American movies and 321 pics from other countries have been banned in Italy since 1944, and more than 10,000 have been forced to cut scenes.

Pasolini’s (pictured) controversial 1975 film “Salò,” which transposed the Marquis de Sade’s 18th-century novel of torture and degradation to Fascist Italy in 1944, had a brief theatrical run in Italy before being banned in January 1976.

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