Part of Fall 1992
See No Evil is a view of exactly what censorship means in Toronto today. It includes a broad mix of work, from documentary and underground film to music video and sex movies, that has been censored for many reasons. Among the utterances escaping the censors’ lips regarding these films and videos: “depicts unsettling subjects”; “offends consumer sensibilities”; “spreads filth.” Banned from television and shopping malls (Death Valley 99 and Buying Passion, Spending Depression), seized and even burned by Customs (Clips and Slam), the works in See No Evil present a small but graphic sampling of the censor’s hidden handiwork.
The recent Supreme Court decision on obscenity and the subsequent charges laid against Glad Day Books have placed censorship issues back in the public eye. See No Evil is being held to coincide with The Ontario Coalition Against Film and Video Censorship’s public forum at the new CBC headquarters November 7 and 8. The forum encompasses discussions, workshops and screenings around the current alarming return of censorship to fashionability. Prominent feminists and activists such as Carol Vance (author of Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality) will be speaking on topics ranging from the myth that there is universal support for censorship by the feminist community to the censorship of AIDS education.
Prowling by Night Gwendolyn & Co., 12 min, 1990.
A collaboration by Gwendolyn and fellow sex trade workers using drawings and collage to examine issues of police harassment, safe sex education and prostitutes’ rights. Produced by the National Film Board as part of theFive Feminist Minutes, Prowling by Night was refused re-entry in Canada after a screening in the U.S.
Slam Bruce La Bruce, 8 min, 1989.
Hardcore movies meet hardcore punk and Karen Carpenter gets caught somewhere in the middle. A copy of this infamous La Bruce film was seized and eventually burned by Canada Customs!
Death Valley 69 Sonic Youth, Richard Kern & Judith Barry, 5 min, 1986.
A music video for Sonic Youth directed by filmmaker Richard Kern and video artist Judith Barry. Death Valley 69 was banned by both MTV and MuchMusic upon its release for its opening sequence depicting a Manson Family slaying. Kern’s work has had a long history of Canadian Customs problems and as a result he is now under FBI investigation.
Clips Nan Kinney & Deborah Sundahl, 14 min, 1988.
Lesbian produced material is increasingly under attack by both project ‘P’ and Customs. Even before the Glad Day Books charges against Bad Attitude, Customs refused entry to seven videos by Blush Productions (including Clips) destined for the Toronto Lesbian & Gay Film & Video Festival.
Buying Passion, Spending Depression Krzystof Wodiczko & Leslie Sharp, 4 min, 1988.
Produced for the Public Access video-wall project The Lunatic of One Idea at Square One Shopping Mall, Buying Passion, Spending Depression takes a harsh stance on rampant consumerism. The video was considered too risque and had to be re-edited so as not to offend consumers. The un-edited version will be screened.
Martina’s Playhouse Peggy Ahwesh, 20 min, 1989.
Martina’s Playhouse is a Pee-wee’s Playhouse for girls. Young Martina narrates and alternately playacts at being baby and grown-up mom. Stopped at the border en route to a Pleasure Dome screening, Martina’s Playhouse was held until after the screening date, illustrating how the Customs bureaucracy effectively plays a censorship role.