'I don't believe in censoring for adults'


HE’S SEEN nearly 2,000 films personally and supervised the watching of 55,000 others, yet the film censor John Kelleher only banned one film.

Mr Kelleher, the director of the Irish Film Classification Office (Ifco), stepped down yesterday just two days short of his 65th birthday.

A former RTÉ producer and controller of television programmes, he was appointed censor over six years ago.

Shortly after taking office, he banned the film Spunon the basis that it showed an “unacceptable level of gratuitous violence and obscenity”, but that decision was overturned on appeal.

He also banned Manhunt 2an extremely violent video game, the only one of 8,000 video games banned by his office.

He says his biggest achievement in office was to be involved in last year’s Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, which changed the name from the Irish Film Censor’s Office to the Ifco.

The Act changed his job title to reflect his primary role in classifying rather than censoring films. The phrase “likely to cause harm to children” was introduced into the legislation for the first time.

“I don’t believe in film censoring for adults, I believe in film classification for minors. I hope that people realised that I was trying to ensure that adults could look after themselves, that it was the welfare of children which was paramount,” he said.

His successor has not yet been appointed and Ifco will be headed up in the meantime by his deputy Ger Connelly.

The best film he saw, he says, was The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen); worst were the series of Sawhorror movies. “I personally hate the extreme violence of the Sawfranchise and the horror film Hostel, but I think younger people see it as an illusion that is created to scare,” he said.

About 180 people, including the Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan, the Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly and Mr Kelleher’s British equivalent David Cooke, turned up at the Light House Cinema in Dublin yesterday for a final screening to mark his last day in office.

The audience watched the new George Clooney movie Up in the Air, which has yet to receive a classification.