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Who's Classifying? About the Ontario Film Review Board
The province's Film Classification Act, 2005 gives the Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB) the authority to review and classify film that is exhibited, rented or sold in Ontario. Several types of films are exempt from the classification requirement. These include films designed to provide information, education or instruction. See Ontario Regulation 452/05 for other exemptions, and further information.
The OFRB consists of individuals (members) who come from a variety of diverse backgrounds, and vary in age, gender, vocation, race, cultural background and sexual orientation.
Throughout its history, the OFRB's policies have been shaped and influenced by external social forces. It continues to adapt and reflect community standards related to age appropriateness of language, nudity, sex, violence, etc.
How the OFRB Classifies
Screening panels of OFRB members review and classify film in accordance with the Act, regulation and guidelines established by the OFRB. These guidelines, which are continually reviewed and updated, allow the OFRB to be objective and consistent, yet flexible. In this way, the OFRB's classification guidelines strive to maintain community standards, while viewing films with an eye for their overall context and social significance.
While viewing the film, each panel member makes extensive notes on all elements that contribute to the film's classification. These elements include language, violence, sex/nudity, and psychological impact. The Classification Categories give a general description of the guidelines associated with each classification and element. After reviewing the film, OFRB members weigh each element based on its content, treatment, and the cumulative effect the film may have on the audience. The cumulative effect can be greatly affected by a number of factors, including style, tone, duration, intensity, frequency, and the amount of visual and/or descriptive detail within each scene. Members must consider all the observed elements within the context of the film in order to arrive at a classification decision.
In addition to the classification, OFRB members may choose to include content advisories, such as Nudity, Coarse Language, or Brutal Violence. These advisories, along with the classification, must appear on all advertising, in order to assist the viewer in making informed choices.
The Chair of the OFRB convenes panels for the purposes of classification. Each serves a different purpose, as follows:
- Normal: This panel consists of OFRB members who classify the film. If members cannot reach a consensus regarding a film's classification, a cumulative panel may be requested.
- Appeal: This panel is requested by the applicant who disagrees with the OFRB's classification decision. Appeal panels consist of members who have not yet seen the film in question. The panel's decision is final, subject to the right of the Director (under the Film Classification Act, 2005) to require reconsideration.
- Reconsideration: The Director (under the Film Classification Act, 2005) may require a person who distributes, offers to distribute, exhibits or offers to exhibit a film to submit it to the OFRB for the purpose of reconsidering the classification or approval decision, or to determine if a film is exempt. In such cases, the panel consists of members who have not yet seen the film in question. This panel's decision is final.
History of the OFRB
Click on a milestone above to see a brief snapshot of the OFRB at various moments in history.