Franco slams Australia's 'embarrassing' gay film ban

He may have the title of 'Oz the Great and Powerful', but it will be interesting to see what sway actor James Franco has in Australia after he criticised the nation's Classification Board for banning a gay film, I Want Your Love.

Franco's interest in the film was largely due to the fact that he recently co-directed a bondage sex film, Interior.Leather.Bar, with I Want You Love's director Travis Mathews.

Mathews' story of a gay man who has sex with his best friend while partying in Los Angeles was considered by the Classification Board to be too explicit in its sex scenes and the board wouldn't allow it to screen at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival and the Brisbane Queer Film Festival.

The scene itself was a six-minute montage of friends, housemates and partygoers.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival director Lisa Daniel said it was an embarrassment for Australia since it had been seen in many festivals around the world.

The board's decision had festival organisers particularly confounded by the fact that under a year ago, it allowed a film called Donkey Love, which featured beastiality, to screen at film festivals.

Franco, who partnered up with Mathews to create a reimagining of 40 minutes of scenes deleted from William Friedkin's 1980 S&M club film Cruising, posted a YouTube video saying that it was "such a disappointment to me and it just seems really silly".

He said that Mathews was "using sex in such a sophisticated way" and banning sex in films had stopped it being given a proper chance to grow as a story-telling device and it was "just embarrassing".

"It's how we create children, it's how we connect," he said. "To keep it away from films that want to explore it as human behavior is very shortsighted and I think very hypocritical. I don't think we would be having this conversation if he had made a very violent film.

"And frankly adults should be able to choose. They're not going in blind. I don't know why this day in age something like this, a film that's using sex not for titillation but to talk about being human is being banned."

Mathews has petitioned the Classification Board to allow the film, saying: ""With my films I have always sought to capture honest and intimate depictions of modern gay life with everyday men. [I use sex] as a tool to show character development, interpersonal issues, intimacy, playfulness and something overall closer to the reality I'm familiar with".

The board has banned several films over their sex scenes, including one that involved a threesome and one with a violent zombie sex scene.

- with Philippa Hawker

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