PRESS RELEASE

Developing story: Update on “SHOW DOGS” film containing grooming messages?

PRESS RELEASE BY CAUSE FOR JUSTICE: 27 JUNE 2018

* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *

SUBJECT: DEVELOPING STORY: UPDATE ON “SHOW DOGS” FILM CONTAINING GROOMING MESSAGES?

On 19 June 2018, Cause for Justice (CFJ) issued a press release entitled ““Show Dogs” Family Film Communicates Harmful Messages to Children as Young As 10” (see further below). Since writing urgent letters to the Minister of Communications, Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor on 12 June to appeal the current age restriction (7-9 PG) to the Appeal Tribunal to re-classify the film with a higher and more appropriate age restriction, the following significant developments have taken place.

Response from Minister of Communications

On 19 June, CFJ was advised that the Minister has formally requested a response and documentation from the Film and Publication Board (FPB) and that upon receipt thereof, she will respond fully to our letter. On Friday, 22 June, CFJ again requested the Minister’s urgent response – specifically whether she will appeal the classification of the film on behalf of the public and in the public interest. With the film’s scheduled release date (6 July 2018) less than two weeks away, CFJ is concerned with the considerable time – two weeks already – it is taking the Minister to come to a decision about the appropriate response to such a grave matter. We have had no substantive response as yet.

Response from the FPB

On the day CFJ issued its first press release, we received an immediate response from the FPB, who contacted us on the evening of 19 June. We were able to clarify our concerns in more specific terms. Despite the initial acknowledgement, no progress has been forthcoming. We continue to follow up with the FPB on a daily basis, seeing as the film is set for release by next week.

Response from Ster-Kinekor/Filmfinity

Filmfinity (whose intended acquisition, in conjunction with Gamefinity, of the “Filmed Content and the Distribution of PlayStation Hardware (Filmed Content Distribution Division)” and “Sony Software Gaming Products” divisions of Ster-Kinekor Entertainment has recently been approved by the Competition Commission) advised CFJ on 20 June that the version of Show Dogs being released in South Africa is the revised version of the film which was released in America following similar concerns raised by the public there. On 20 June and again on 21 June however, CFJ informed Filmfinity that, according to the most recent information,[1] the revised/recut/edited version of Show Dogs still contains the disturbing and inappropriate scenes or references.

We requested Filmfinity to provide us with some form of objective confirmation that the version of the film being released in SA next week is different from the edited version reported on in the most recent media statements (which apparently still contains the disturbing and inappropriate scenes or references). CFJ requested a private screening of the film for this purpose.

In response, CFJ received a letter from Filmfinity’s attorneys wherein Filmfinity –

  1. Failed to provide confirmation that the film that will be released in SA is not the same as the edited version that still contains the inappropriate scenes/references,[2] as was reported on most recently. (We understand that the reason why they do not answer us categorically on this question, may be that they do not know. If this is the case, it would open up further questions about the responsibility of content distributors towards consumers (e.g. children) for the product content they distribute.)
  2. Stated that our complaint is without merit and misdirected.
  3. Stated that it is satisfied that the current edited version is acceptable for younger viewers.
  4. Claims that CFJ’s conduct is wrongful and damaging to itself.
  5. Despite having been informed by CFJ that the public does not in law have a right to appeal,[3] referred CFJ to the FPB[4] (with whom CFJ has been in contact since 19 June) and refuses to accede to CFJ’s request for them to appeal the film’s age restriction on the public’s behalf. The reasoning offered by Filmfinity is that according to them the film does not contain any inappropriate scenes and that they will abide by any decision of the FPB.

CFJ maintains that there is just cause to obtain objective confirmation that the edited version to be aired in SA, differs from the edited version that still contains the inappropriate scenes/references, as was reported on most recently in the USA. There is nothing sinister, wrongful or damaging in seeking to establish the truth of a matter.

After further considerable pressure by CFJ, Filmfinity (through its attorneys) on 26 June conceded that they would be willing to provide us with a private screening of the film, but only in the presence of and under the auspices of the FPB. CFJ has since requested the FPB to arrange such a private screening, in order to obtain objective assurance about whether the film contains any grooming references or not and if indeed, whether it would be appropriate for 10-year-olds to view the film without parental guidance (seeing as the film is currently rated 7 – 9 PG).

Response from Nu Metro

Nu Metro advised us via email on 19 June that our letter had been forwarded to the relevant department. We have not received any further communication from Nu Metro since.

Of all our interactions and attempted engagements with the industry, Nu Metro’s lack of response has been most disappointing.

For further queries, contact CFJ at:

Email: info@causeforjustice.org

Tel: 083 235 1511

CAUSE FOR JUSTICE

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