Filmmaker Sean McAllister defies censors over 15 age rating
Documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister has offered free tickets to under-15s to watch his latest film in protest at the age suitability rating given to it by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
McAllister’s new film A Northern Soul follows the story of warehouse worker Steve Arnott from Hull.
Arnott is struggling to raise money while funding his social enterprise project, a hip hop bus that he drives around disadvantaged communities in the Yorkshire city.
McAllister’s film was shot in 2017, when Hull was UK City of Culture.
The BBFC deemed that the language in the film was too strong for it to be given a 12A certificate, which would allow younger children to watch it with a guardian.
McAllister claimed that the decision was based on the film’s “raw depiction of poverty” and in protest has offered under-15s free tickets to screenings in Hull this week.
A Northern Soul can be shown in Hull with a 12A rating as the city’s council had already ruled that before the BBFC’s made its own rating.
McAllister told BBC News: “An honest depiction of our times has somehow been censored, because the guy is far from offensive, he’s far from aggressive in any way at all.
“He’s an inspiration of hope, a gleam of light in dark times for kids who have very little.”
“The whole point of this film was to outreach to poorer communities to give hope where there hasn’t been hope for years because of austerity cuts.
“Stamping a 15 just really limits that and takes all of that potential out of the film.”
The BBFC noted that the film contained “around 20 uses of strong language and therefore exceeds by some margin anything we have ever permitted at 12A”.
The film will be shown in selected cinemas across the UK as a 15.
McAllister, who was nominated for a Bafta for his last film Syrian Love Story, added: “My bigger objection is there’s a feeling of a misunderstanding of the North, and how awfully class-based a society we are that there’s someone in the ivory towers making judgments on how people are and how people speak.
“I really think it’s the raw depiction of poverty that people find offensive. I think there’s some depiction of raw, unrepentant poverty that they can’t take on board, and I think it’s down to that.”
A Northern Soul will be shown on BBC Two later this year.