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Seychelles films classification board – new approach for 2024 |12 February 2024

Seychelles films classification board – new approach for 2024

The Seychelles Films Classifications Board members (Photo: Contributed)

Since September 2023, the newly appointed Seychelles Films Classifications Board has rated 59 films, amongst which are films shown as part of the ‘Viv an Kreol’ film competition held in October last year and the ‘Japanese Films Festival’ held two weeks ago.

The majority of the films have been submitted by the Deepam Cinema and Alliance Française which rents out films to its members. The board is currently in the process of scheduling the rating of films submitted by the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and Intelvision, of which 136 comes from the national broadcaster alone.To date the board has not banned any films, but has reclassified two age limits following international release.

The Seychelles Film Classification Board (SFCB) serves as an arm of the Creative Seychelles Agency (CSA) under the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts. It works alongside the Seychelles Film Classification and Permit Office (SFCPO) to rate local films and accord certification that guides cinemas, broadcast houses and the general public on the age restrictions for all forms of moving images that are exhibited to the general public.

Motion picture classification is practiced worldwide. Film classification boards or associations determine the suitability of the content, rate and give cautionary warnings for the benefit of the audience. These include, but is not limited to movies, documentaries, music videos and other genres. These are shown on local television channels, in cinemas or rented out.

Even if a motion picture is given a rating in its country of origin, whenever it is to be played in another jurisdiction, it is given a domestic rating, using the rating system in place, guided by social, cultural and traditional values. Seychelles is no exception.  

The SFCB consists of five members and is chaired by Tessa Henderson.  The board has already met with its main stakeholders, namely, Intelvision, TéléSesel, SBC and Deepam Cinema and is scheduled to meet with Cable & Wireless whose main content for rating are music videos.

Ms Henderson explained that “the meetings have created an opportunity for the SFCB to better understand the broadcast schedule and internal policies currently in place, pertaining to broadcast and showing of films. The meetings aimed at, among other things, creating a stronger partnership between the SFCB and stakeholders, who are mandated by law to submit films to the SFCB for rating. From the meetings we have been able to work on our weekly work schedule and put in place guidelines.”

The board has also had the opportunity to visit the only cinema in the country, Deepam Cinema and hold discussions with its owner Subash Pillay about the operational aspect of running a cinema and how cinema has mordernised over the years.

The board representative from the Attorney General’s Office, Ria Alcindor commented on the importance of holding such visits and understanding how decisions are made based on current realities. “The visit at Deepam Cinema was an eye-opener, because whilst the law dictates our work as a board, the visit has shown us that the law does not reflect current times and what is happening on the ground. This calls for a much-needed law review,” said Ms Alcindor.

In fact, since October last year, the SFCB has been discussing the provisions of the Films Classification Board Act, with the intention of presenting and proposing reforms aimed at modernising the Act, to the institute.

So how relevant is film classification in a world where audiences are accessing media content at any time and place? Does age restriction really matter? 

Gina Adelaide, the board representative from the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs, said “yes, rating is important”.

“It guides and allows parents or the viewer to make informed viewing choices for themselves or their family, thanks to the cautionary warnings we provide as board. As part of our process, we determine the suitability of the film for viewing and from there, we issue a local classification certificate. A lot of scrutiny is applied. We do not just simply accept the original rating. In fact, our local rating system – which we are currently reviewing, needs to align with present-day storyline and content,” added Ms Adelaide.

In support of this, the board representative from the Seychelles National Youth Council, François Magloire explained that ratings allow a viewer to know whether the content of a film is suitable for certain age based on the intensity of the content.

“That is why we see the rating ‘U’ for general audience, or ‘15+’ which indicates that the content is restricted for those above that age. As a board, we have a social and moral responsibility to inform and educate the public on the age appropriateness of content,” stated Mr Magloire.

“Yes, many times ratings are ignored, but not everyone enjoys being surprised by horrific, violent scenes on screen. The rating is there as a guide to viewers. In fact, we are encouraging media houses to display the ratings throughout the film and to also alert audiences on the types of content expected,” added Mr Magloire.      

The SFCB is supported by two staff members who manage the Seychelles Film Classification and Permit Office (SFCPO), which is based at the International Conference Centre of Seychelles (ICCS).  The office is led by Lucie Albert who has been with the unit for over 30 years.

“So far, the board has done a lot of work, especially when it comes to reviewing the rating system and setting up procedural guidelines and work schedule. In some instances, we have had all day meetings and resorted to meeting online a few times. The approach taken is very transparent and aside from rating films, the board is dealing with pertinent matters and is very pro-active,” said Ms Albert.

She went on to explain that the film unit deals with other tasks including processing and issuing filming permits to both international and local film crews producing films locally.

The unit also handles foreign artist applications for photographers, musical groups, dancers, and other types of entertainers performing in Seychelles, including hotels.

“In view of this, the board is working on a schedule that will allow the office to conduct its works, whilst supporting their new direction and workload,” said Ms Albert.

The board is also planning to meet with local producers in the coming months, as a large number of contents are being produced locally. In line with this, local film producers are being encouraged to submit their videos to the SFCB for certification. The unit can be contacted on telephone number 4324353.







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