TORONTO — Canadian distributors of the controversial Catherine Breillat film “Fat Girl” are taking the Ontario Film Review Board to court in an effort to overturn a decision late last year banning the film from Canada’s most populous province.
Co-distributors Cowboy Pictures and Lions Gate Films have begun legal proceedings in the Divisional Court, Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In a two-pronged strategy, they seek to overturn the OFRB’s decision in November to ban “Fat Girl” in Ontario and are challenging the constitutionality of the legislation giving the OFRB such power.
“All indications are that the court will probably overturn the board’s decision,” said Cowboy Pictures co-president Noah Cowan. “Fat Girl” concerns the sexual awakening of two sisters, one a beauty and the other an ugly duckling.
The distributors have an influential group of supporters behind them, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Union, Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Ron Mann, Piers Handling of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, James Quandt of Cinematheque Ontario and several major Canadian academics, including Peter Fitting and Kay Armatage from the U. of Toronto.
When the OFRB turned down an appeal of its ban in November in a 3-2 decision, the board’s two dissenting members made their comments public. Dissenting board member Sara Waxman wrote: “This intelligent handling of a controversial subject, adolescent sexuality, does not glorify or glamorize the subject. If anything, this is an anti-sex film.” Board member Roger Currie felt “the nudity in question was not gratuitous and was a legitimate choice for the filmmaker to make. I feel strongly that in such a situation, the board should exercise discretion.”
The court is expected to hear the case in late spring or early summer.
“Fat Girl” has been released in the U.S. and several other Canadian provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.