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The Reeler Blog

Newly Censored, Meadows En Route to NYC

With a pair of Guardian pieces in the last 48 hours, British filmmaker Shane Meadows passes along the agony and ecstasy of his semi-autobiographical This is England, which opens April 27 in England and will have its US premiere May 2 at the Tribeca Film Festival.

First, the sepia-tone. Or more like washed-out Kodachrome:

My older sister was going out with a skinhead who took me under his wing and taught me about the roots of the whole culture. ... I learned from him that skinheads had grown out of working class English lads working side by side with west Indians in factories and shipyards in the late-60s. The black lads would take the whites to blues parties where they were exposed to ska music for the first time. Soon, Jamaican artists like Desmond Dekker, the Upsetters and Toots And The Maytals were making a living out of songs aimed directly at English white kids. This was where the whole skinhead thing came from - it was inherently multicultural. But nowadays when I tell people that I used to be a skinhead, they think I'm saying I used to be racist. My film shows how rightwing politics started to creep into skinhead culture in the 1980s and change people's perception of it.

O, nostalgia. Except, as Meadows apparently discovered almost immediately after filing his piece with the Guardian, that depiction aroused a bit of discomfort among the powers at the British Board of Film Classification. Now This is England faces an 18 rating -- the equivalent of the MPAA's NC-17 -- and Meadows is hitting the Guardian's arts blog to make his appeal:

It's like I've somehow overachieved. By having one piece of violence and one piece of really acute verbal violence I've managed to get an 18 certificate, whereas someone else can slay thousands of people in a single film and that's OK. To be honest I don't understand it because, yes, the film is affecting but I think it's something that someone of 15 can cope with. It's not like it's a film about the 80s that has no value; it's incredibly relevant politically. It's as much about Iraq as it is about the Falklands. It's as much as about England in 2007 as it is about England in 1983.

Yeah, well, welcome to the party, kiddo. In any event, Meadows notes, the Bristol City Council actually overturned the rating to allow admittance of viewers 15 and older. Wow. Now if only we could get the New York City Council to take a stand on Todd Solondz films, we could join the 21st century. Judge Meadows' work for yourself next week, or for half the price when IFC opens This is England this July in New York.

Posted at April 23, 2007 8:42 AM

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