ccfaf logo2010 Cave Creek Film and Arts Festival film censorship comments

Delivered during the Film Showcase Sunday, July 11

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All that it takes is a look at television’s prime time line-up to see that discourse has been remapped. Boundaries of acceptance have changed and we have learned to live with a coarsening of language and human behavior. Our society sanctions violence. It’s nothing to see grotesque cruelty exhibited in High Definition Technicolor. We have become inured to witnessing variations on the theme of torture – man on man, man on innocent children and animals, man on Nature. We accept the actions of the “good guys” doing what they have to do, and we are resigned to the “bad guys” doing what it is that they do. Those images are burned into our consciousness daily. This is what feeds the perennial culture wars obsessed with the mutations of morality and the living organism that is language.

Charles Peterson has made a brave film that many people would find disturbing. However, it is a well-constructed, professionally executed piece of filmmaking and it belongs in this evening’s line-up. A very graphic piece of work, “Sex and Violence” presents a twisted love story which would probably be deemed perverse to most. 

But that does not warrant censoring Mr. Peterson’s film.

The Cave Creek Film and Arts Festival does not censor but we cannot screen this movie short because we are in the wrong venue, as beautiful as this facility is for our purpose. We are on the grounds of the Cave Creek Unified School District and therefore this is the wrong place to host a legitimate film festival. This is a public school environment and as such, there are restrictions regarding public conduct on school property, restrictions applied to speech and language – never mind the every day utterances exchanged between students … regardless of the music lyrics celebrated by today’s youth … and in spite of what can be viewed on regular TV.

I don’t mean to suggest that our being censored tonight reflects the sensibilities of the fine educators whose work imbues these walls with dignity. I know many of the teachers and administrators in this district who are very serious about teaching our children how to think, not what to think.

Art is supposed to stretch boundaries, challenge convention, upend expectations.

Censorship disavows all that Art holds in Truth and there is no room for censorship in art. There is no room for censorship in a civilized society. What is immoral is the denial of any condition of life that does not comport with a certain fashion. Such suppression limits cultural horizons.