The Way I Love You is the story of a gay man, his best friend and the sexual nature of their relationship, eventuating while they party through Los Angeles.
Directed by Franco’s friend, Travis Matthews, the film has screened at an array of international festivals over the past year, including the Toronto LBGT Festival, to critical acclaim.
However the film will not be shown at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival in March, Sydney’s Queer Screen, or the Brisbane Queer film festival in April, after the Australian Classification Board refused its clearance on the basis of what it feels was “explicit sexual activity.”
“In this case, the film contains detailed and prolonged scenes of actual explicit sexual activity,” board officials said in a statement addressing the ban.
“I think the Australian Classification Board made the decision based on the synopsis, not having seen the film, saying it’s gratuitous. I could argue against it, but it feels like a trap. This is a larger issue that an adult viewing audience should be able to make up their own mind about this,” argued the film’s director.
And Franco wholeheartedly agrees.
The Spiderman star, who co-directed a bondage film with Matthew this year, believes the ban is unwarranted and that the decision was “hypocritical”.
“This is such a disappointment to me and it just seems really silly,” Franco said in a YouTube video, which had 17,000 views yesterday.
“Sex is such a big part of our lives… it’s how we create children, it’s how we connect … I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if he’d made a very violent film,” the 127 Hours actor said.
Lisa Daniel, director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, believes the decision is embarrassing for Australia.
“It just makes us look like a cultural backwater, I think. It’s pretty embarrassing given the film has screened all over the world and never been banned before,” Daniel said.
“They’re not going in blind. I don’t know why in this day in age something like this, a film that’s using sex not for titillation but to talk about being human, is being banned.”
Franco, who is out promoting his new film Oz The Great and Powerful was so inspired by this particular film that he decided to collaborate with Matthews on their film Interior. Leather Bar. It debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
For now, Franco will continue to plead via his video protest.
“Adults should be able to choose… I don’t know why in this day and age something like this… is being banned. It’s just embarrassing. I hope you’ll reconsider.”
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