Canuck film suspected as porn
TORONTO – The film “Love and Savagery” tells a romantic tale of passion and longing set in Ireland and Newfoundland, yet Canada Border Services officials recently held up footage from the movie because they suspected it was pornography.
The movie’s producers shot scenes in Ireland last month, including some in a Catholic church, and had sent footage for processing to Montreal. The film was held by border officials for days at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
“All of a sudden this batch of rushes got held up day after day after day at Canadian Customs,” a bemused John N. Smith said in an interview from St. John’s, where shooting on the Ireland-Canada co-production continues.
“There was a big kerfuffle and they suspected us of being involved in the pornography trade. They were insisting they were going to send it off to the RCMP lab to develop it to see if we were engaged in pornography.”
Both Smith, who directed “The Englishman’s Boy” and the award-winning “The Boys of St. Vincent,” and Kevin Tierney, the producer of “Love and Savagery,” suspect the menacing arm of Bill C-10 was at play.
The controversial bill, currently being debated in the Senate, would allow the government to withhold tax credits to film and television productions it deems offensive.
“There’s now a kind of attitude that permeates the bureaucracy based on the signals they’re getting from the elected ministers,” Tierney said.
Border Services Agency officials said Wednesday they couldn’t comment on specific cases, but noted they may choose to examine any shipment if they suspect it contains prohibited or restricted items, including pornography.
Tierney said Montreal border officials were suspicious based on the film’s title, something he found amusing.
“As if we’re going to make pornography in Ireland, and then label it ‘Love and Savagery’ – very subtle – and then send it to the porn capital of Canada. It’s like bringing communion to the Pope. Are they out of their minds?” Tierney said incredulously.
Smith said the spectre of C-10, even though it isn’t law yet, is looming large.
“The insidious C-10 rears its head in all these odd little ways,” he said. “I don’t think people realize how incredibly difficult this nonsense makes it for Canadian producers because if you don’t have a guarantee that you’re going to be able to make the movie, then it’s going to screw up the financing. It’s absolutely insane right now.”
The threat from border officials to send the rushes to an RCMP lab for processing caused a tense few days for the filmmakers.
“This was 35-millimetre negative film – it’s very, very critical, you can’t just have any old lab go and process it,” Smith said.
Tierney said he was ready to put his lawyers on the case, since the footage could have been ruined had it gone to the Mountie lab for processing. In the end, that wasn’t necessary.
And Smith says there might be an added benefit to the misunderstanding about the film, which stars Newfoundland actor Allan Hawco and Irish actress Sarah Greene as star-crossed lovers.
“Who knows, we may get the raincoat crowd now,” he said with a laugh.
Canuck film suspected as porn