'A Serbian Film'
was one of the most talked about movies of 2010 -- and well, ever -- which is a big feat for a film that has relied mostly on the festival circuit for its publicity. The movie -- about a veteran porn star who is lured back into the business and eventually gets in over his head -- is a dark and incredibly depressing tale that deals with controversial topics like pedophilia and necrophilia. Apparently this moved Spain's Catholic Confederation of Family and Student Parents (Concapa) to push the Barcelona public prosecutor to possibly press charges against Stiges festival director, Angel Sala, for exhibiting child pornography.

No official lawsuit has been filed at this time, according to Variety, but it raises all kinds of tricky questions about censorship, and the dangerous mixing of morality and art. The prestigious Spanish film festival isn't the first group to face issues surrounding the controversial film. Spain's San Sebastian Horror and Fantasy Film Festival "would have screened ['A Serbian Film'] uncut at half-past-midnight in an adults-only session," said former director Jose Luis Rebordinos, but blames the injunction for the reason why the horror fest cancelled the screening. London's FrightFest pulled the movie from their lineup after the British Board of Film Classification demanded 49 cuts (over four minutes of film). In general, the film has been labeled unsuitable for theatrical release in most countries. Festival leaders and others are supporting Sala as the case takes shape.

[If you haven't seen the film, there are spoilers ahead. Check out our SXSW review of the movie over here.]

Warning: Trailer is NSFW


The buzz around 'A Serbian Film' is a reminder that obscenity laws and community standards are not easily determined and should therefore be unenforceable. While the imagery in 'Serbian Film' is unpleasant, measures were taken to ensure that the movie was responsibly screened to adult audiences. Although the subtext about corruption surrounding the Serbian government was unsuccessful (to me, anyway) and has become lost in the obvious and sensationalistic subject matter that the people like the folks in Spain are shrieking about, obscenity charges surrounding the film are more shocking than the images of a child (a doll in one scene, and animatronics in another) being raped.

The child pornography charges are totally bogus, because there aren't any scenes of real children engaging in sexual acts. The film crosses the lines of taste in putting forth some of its ideas, but it's still just a film at the end of the day -- no matter how unpleasant or controversial it might be.

Although for me the movie failed in terms of political commentary and wasn't effective as transgressive cinema (I was actually kind of bored ... and I'm a big fan of the genre), the movie stood out to me for how its audiences reacted to it. Obviously the filmmakers win on that account by a landslide.