The decision by the Classification Office limited the availability of the French film Baise-Moi:
for the purpose of study in a tertiary media or film studies course or as part of a film festival organised by an incorporated film society, and in both cases to persons who have attained the age of 18 years
The film carried the descriptive note 'sexual violence, graphic violence and explicit sex scenes'. Below is an excerpt from the Classification Office's decision:
The Classification Office consulted widely over the classification of this film, including a consultation with members of the public. Submissions were received by various interested parties, and the classification of this publication in other jurisdictions has been considered. In classifying this publication, the option of excising part or parts of it were considered but found to be impractical. A restriction to adults only is not sufficient to minimise the likely injury that has been identified therefore the publication is also restricted to either a specified purpose or to a class of person.
This decision was appealed to the Film and Literature Board of Review by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, which submitted that the film should be banned outright. The Board classified the film as R18 with the descriptive note 'contains frequent disturbing depictions of violence and repeated explicit sexual content'. Below is an excerpt from the Board's decision:
In respect of s3(4) of the Act, the dominant effect is that just desserts are meted out in the end to the two main characters. The Board acknowledges a degree of merit in Baise-Moi as a post-modern movie with some value from a feminist perspective. Baise-Moi is a provocative film on the human condition and it is noted that it is listed in the top ten films for the year 2000 in Time Magazine.
The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards appealed the Board of Review's decision to the High Court on a point of law. This appeal was upheld and Baise-Moi was sent back to the Board for a new classification. Justice Hammond's decision stated that:
...The Board did err in law in this instance in failing to have regard to the impact of the various mediums of formats in which this film might be presented... to my mind, the broader view taken by the OFLC is correct in law.
In the Board's new decision, the theatrical film version of Baise Moi was again classified as R18, while the DVD/video version of the film was:
objectionable unless restricted to theatrical exhibition or are exhibited as part of a tertiary media or film studies course, and in all cases to persons who have attained the age of 18 years.
The Board also assigned a new descriptive note: 'contains frequent disturbing depictions of violence and repeated explicit sexual content and sexual violence'.
The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards appealed this new classification decision to the High Court, and this time the appeal was dismissed. The Society then took the case to the Court of Appeal, which 'allowed the appeal in part', as it found that the Board:
...wrongly purported to make separate classifications for the publication in film form and the publication in video/DVD form, the Board could have achieved the same practical result lawfully. It could have made one classification for the film, imposing restrictions that meant that it could not be viewed in any medium except by persons over the age of 18 years, and could be viewed only through theatrical exhibition or as part of a tertiary media studies or film studies course. In those circumstances, we consider that the appropriate course for us to take is to quash the Board's decision and substitute a new decision having the same practical effect, but which complies with the requirements of the Act.
The Court then issued the following classification in place of the Board's most recent decision:
The film Baise-Moi is objectionable except if:
the availability of the film is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 18 years; and
the film is used for the purpose of:
theatrical exhibition; or
exhibition to participants in a tertiary media studies course or a tertiary film studies course.