Director/ producer Tony Comstock told GAYVN today that his award-winning gay XXX movie Damon and Hunter: Doing It Together has been banned from being shown at a gay documentary film festival here.
The movie was named Best Documentary at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) in July, has received quite a bit of positive press in Australia and, after its success at Melbourne, was invited to be shown at QueerDoc, the world's premiere gay and lesbian documentary film festival, in Sydney this September.
But the QueerDoc screenings are now off.
According to Comstock, this past week QueerDoc received a letter from Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) notifying it that screening Damon and Hunter would be "a violation of Section 8 of the government's Film Festival Guidelines."
This section, among other things, prohibits the screening of films with explicit sexual content.
"In Australia," said Comstock, "the government can tell you what you can and can't show at a film festival. What will happen now, I don't know. The festival is currently in negotiations with the OFLC to see if they can show the movie in some sort of edited form, and we're trying to get the movie re-rated.
"There is now also the question of what might happen to the organizers of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival and the owners of the venue that had the audacity to show Damon and Hunter on not one, but two screens."
Each violation of Section 8 is punishable by a year in jail and a $20,000 fine.
"Of all the films the OFLC might target for censorship, Damon and Hunter seems like a particularly inappropriate target. Aside from the recognition the film has so far received as an outstanding work of cinema, it's also been recognized for its value as a life-affirming and educational document," Comstock explained.
"Damon and Hunter is in the collection of the world renowned library at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. It's already being used by the Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York, and by the San Francisco Sex Information Hotline. Just this week it was being studied by delegates at the Sixteenth Annual HIV/ AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada. Why? Because Damon and Hunter is singular in its compassionate, humane, frank, and erotic depiction of gay love and gay sex.
"And, apparently," Comstock concluded, "that's something that the government of Australia needs to keep the people of Sydney, especially the gay men of Sydney, from seeing."