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In an attempt to reduce unnecessary cinematic censorship, Vietnam, which is still dominated by Confucian social mores, will adopt a new rating system in 2017 that allows for adult content.
The new system will include four categories: (P) general audiences and a series of age based rankings C13, C16 and C18.
Officials will classify films based on levels of gore, profanity, violence, nudity and sex displayed, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The ministry said it will also consider a film's drug-related content, which must suit a film’s content or carry an anti-drug message.
Gratuitous drug-related content will continue to be censored.
Censors will likewise permit sex and violence in C18 films so long as it is not gratuitous in nature.
General Audience films (rated category P) will not contain any horrific, violent or sexual content; they will not make any reference to drug use or production.
The ministry has spent around three years creating the new rating system, which it said closely follows models applied in Singapore and several western countries.
Last year, film censors in Vietnam proposed a controversial ban on sex scenes that lasted over five seconds in local films, and full-frontal female nudity. The rules were not included in the official rating system, which goes into effect this Sunday.
Vietnam’s cinemas currently employ just two ratings – G for general viewers and NC16 for viewers aged 16 and up.
Adult content rarely makes it onto the silver screen in Vietnam where sex before marriage remains taboo and singers who perform in skimpy clothing may find themselves fined.
In February 2015, local cinemas had a hard time putting together a final cut of the erotic thriller 50 Shades of Gray.
Censors unexpectedly cancelled all planned screenings at CGV cinemas, which had purchased the distribution rights in Vietnam.
A day later, the chain ran a new cut dubbed "the Asian version," which was rated 16+ but advertised as more “suitable for the masses.”
Moviegoers left theaters puzzled by an erotic film that contained no sex scenes.
In 2013, censors banned a much-anticipated action film about gang fights in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown even after asking the producers to cut 15 minutes of action from the film.
In a rare exception, Vietnam Television began re-airing Sex and the City last August after a sudden, unexplained mid-series suspension in late 2014.
Do Quoc Khanh, managing editor of VTV2, praised the award-winning series as one of the best of all time.
“The show has done a great job in respecting women’s rights and shares an important message that women should not hide their sexual desires,” Khanh said, adding that it offered a valuable resource in sex education.
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