Front page.

NEWS | Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Friggieri says State ‘morally obliged’ to scrutinise art

The chairman of the Film and Stage Classification Board, Therese Friggieri, has declared it is “the State’s moral obligation to scrutinise and examine the type of influence its own citizens are exposed to,” referring to the play Stitching, which the board wants to ban.
Friggieri, wife of playwright and philosopher Joe Friggieri, has insisted in a judicial counter-protest that the decision to ban the play Stitching was taken after being reviewed by another panel of censors.
Unifaun, the producers of Stitching, have vowed they will be staging the performance even under pain of arrest. The play, written by Scottish writer Anthony Neilson, is about a couple in crisis coming to terms with a loss, and deals with themes that include death and abortion.
It was “banned and disallowed” by the board because of its allegedly offensive content.
“Not only is it obscene and contains words which offend religious sentiment, but it has a decadent and depraved content of disgusting perversions of a sexual and sado-masochist nature and even paedophiliac instances, with gratuitous references to the poor victims of Auschwitz, which… go beyond the limits of public decency and degrades human dignity,” Friggieri said.
“It is the State’s moral obligation to scrutinise and examine the type of influence its own citizens are exposed to,” Friggieri said in a counter-protest.
In her counter-protest, filed jointly with the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General, Friggieri said that a three-person panel, composed of her as chairman, Cecilia Xuereb and Dione Mifsud, took the decision to ban the play for its “perverse and obscene” content.
The producers’ lawyers however argue that the play is not blasphemous or obscene, and that if they do put it up they can only be found guilty of small contraventions and petty fines, rather than arrest.
On 20 January, Friggieri presented the certificate of censorship personally to director Chris Gatt at the St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity because she wanted the decision to be communicated to the producers “as soon as possible” given that their application was presented just a month and a half before the play.
Friggieri said she spent an hour explaining and discussing the board’s decision with Gatt.
On 25 January, producer Adrian Buckle called Friggieri on the phone. According to Friggieri, she told Buckle that the “whole texture of the play” was “condemnable”. The next day, she found a request by the producer to review the decision< as legally mandated.
Friggieri passed on the script to another panel, composed of Marthese Scerri, Joe Camilleri and Tony Muscat for their judgement. She said there was no attempt at influencing the decision of the classifiers, who confirmed the initial decision.
Friggieri said she informed the producers of the reasons for the decision to ban the play by letter on 30 January, 2009.
Friggieri added that the right to freedom of expression was not an absolute one, and was subject to various reasonable limitations when these are in the interest of morality and public decency.
Last Saturday, the producers of Stitched said the ban was absurd. “It is absurd to gag an artist in this day and age. This is the end of democracy, and whoever does not believe that, does not understand freedom of expression,” director Chris Gatt said.


Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download front page in pdf file format


All the interviews from Reporter on MaltaToday's YouTube channel.


In defence of humour

Harry Vassallo

Nailed by the evidence

Anna Mallia

Poor Matthew

A taste of Ebba’s sketches
Currently NUVO art & dine is exhibiting the first commemorative exhibition of Ebba von Fersen Balzan organised by her husband Saviour Balzan and Nuvo.

An honorary Maltese, a visionary artist
Artists, art critics and friends unanimously gather to remember the impact and value of Ebba von Fersen Balzan’s work and her strong connection with the Maltese islands


The Julian Manduca Award

Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email