Learn more about the general classification
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Learn more about the 13 years old and over classification
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Learn more about the 16 years old and over classification
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Learn more about the 18 years old and over classification
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You've seen them at the entrance to movie theatres, in the media, and on the labels of the videos you rent or buy. But do you know exactly how and why films are classified in Québec?
Because forewarned is forearmed — especially when it comes to children — the Régie du cinéma invites you to find the answers to the above question in this text, which will allow you to make informed viewing choices.
Since the mid 1960s, censorship is no longer practised in Québec. The Régie du cinéma does not, therefore, cut any material from films. Instead, it classifies them according to age groups. This system better meets the needs ot our society, protecting young people while ensuring the widest possible access to cinema. The ratings also provide the public with information that can help one decide what films to see.
Overall, films are judged according to general trends in Québec society and in such a way as to be in keeping with the rules of public order. However, when the Régie believes that a film presents a real danger to the public good, especially in terms of obscenity, it reserves the right to refuse classification. In such cases, the showing, sale and rental of the film are prohibited.
... Every work is judged in its entirety, and the rating seeks to reflect the overall effect of the film on young viewers.
Classifiers analyse films as objectively as possible, taking into account both the subject and the treatment.
Classifiers look at difficult passages in the light of their overall context, and evaluate them according to their pertinence or gratuitousness. They consider whether the film is realistic and true to life, as well as the likelihood of viewers identifying with the subject.
The Régie du cinéma is constantly striving to keep track of the ever evolving social consensus, a primary consideration in film classification.
Therefore it takes into account social concerns; it follows the evolution of public opinion on alll matters that can enlighten its decision-making process. It aiso calls on experts for issues that require specialised advice.
The Régie keeps abreast of all new cinematographic developments and it judges the works it receives for classification according to the realities of Québec. It aiso remains informed of the decisions of other similar agencies in North America and elsewhere in the world.
…It is important to note that the role of the Régie du cinéma is seperate from that of parents, who should ensure that their children see films that conform to their personal values.
A classification of
Visa général does not necessarily mean that the film is of interest to children. It only means that its content is not likely to be disturbing to young viewers. However, when a film with a "G" rating might offend the sensibilities of children under eight years of age, the Régie du cinéma adds "Not suitable for young children" to the Visa général classification.
Films classified as
Visa général have only occasional scenes of violence. These are not overly intense and are not condoned. The tone and genre of the film are important elements in the decision-making process: scenes of violence in a comedy or adventure film centring on a hero who is larger than life do not have the same impact on children as those in a more realistic film.
Although there may be some nudity, love scenes remain rather discreet. Depending on the context, some expletives are tolerated.
The Régie classifies in this category films that require a certain level of judgement. These films contain passages or sequences that may offend the sensibilities of younger viewers.
Teenage viewers are more aware of the fact that a movie is not reality and are therefore better psychologically prepared to follow more complex or dramatic films. Violence, eroticism, coarse language or horror may be more developed and may constitute a dominant characteristic of the film. However, it is important that the film allow viewers to discern the meaning that should be attributed to the varions characters and their actions, because teenagers are not necessarily prepared to face everything. This is why certain themes (drugs, suicide, troubling situations, etc.) and their treatment are carefully examined.
The Régie believes that films with this classification require an incipient maturite and invites parents to take the rating into account.
At the age of 16, young people enter a transition period between the end of adolescence and the beginning adulthood. They are more independent, and have usually attained a certain level of psychological maturity.
Films with this rating present troubling themes, situations or behaviours and adopt a more direct point of view about things. They may therefore contain scenes where violence, horror and sexuality are more graphic.
Films reserved for adults most often deal primarily with the representation of explicit sexual encounters. They may also be extremely violent, showing scenes of hyperrealistic cruelty, torture and horror.
The showing, sale or rental of the film is prohibited.
The Régie du cinéma may refuse to classify certain films. These cases, which are quite rare, involve films deemed to interfere with public order. They are usually based on an undue exploitation of sexuality, presented in a context of non-fictional violence, cruelty and dehumanization of the protagonists. It is considered that such exploitation is beyond the threshold of tolerance of contemporary Québec society, and that the film cannot be made public in this form.
The ratings are sometimes accompanied by indications which specify the dominant characteristic of the film. These may prove quite useful when the classification alone does not provide sufficient information.
Associated with a "Visa général" rating, this indication means that the film is particularly suitable for young children.
Associated with a "Visa général" rating, this indication warns that the film may be disturbing to children under eight years of age.
Accompanies a rating of "13 years and over," "16 years and over", or "18 years and over." This indication means that the film contains coarse or obscene language.
Accompanies a rating of "13 years and over", "16 years and over", or "18 years and over." This indication specifies that the film contains enough visual elements pertaining to sexuality to make this one of its dominant characteristics.
Accompanies a rating of "13 years and over", "16 years and over", or "18 years and over." This indication means that violence is one of the dominant aspects of the film.
Accompanies a rating of "13 years and over", "16 years and over", or "18 years and over." This indication warns that the film is strongly characterized by scenes aimed at provoking disgust, repulsion or fear, such as those showing mutilated bodies.
Oniy accompanies the classification of "18 years and over." This indication signifies that the film essentially contains scenes of real and explicit sexual activity. In the retail video industry, the presence of this indication requires the storeowner to place the film in a room reserved for adults.
... Film classification reflects what is seen on the screen, not what is imagined or thought.
The Régie du cinéma's classification is often accompanied by those of other agencies, such as the Canadian Film and Home Video Industry (CHV) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). These two agencies represent the movie and video industries in Canada and the United States. The classification that has the force of law in Québec is, of course, the one from the Régie du cinéma. Nevertheless, in order to avoid confusion, the following is a short presentation of the two other systems that are most commonly seen.
In the United States, there is no law governing the classification of films, and when a rating does appear on a product, viewers are free to disregard it. MPAA classifications are divided into five categories:
|G||General audience (no age limit).|
|PG||Parental guidance suggested.|
|PG-13||Parents strongly cautioned.|
|R||Should be restricted to viewers 17 years of age and over or accompanied by an adult.|
|NC-17||Should be restricted to viewers 18 years of age and over.|
The recommendations of the CHV are based on an average derived from the classifications of various Canadian provinces. As in Québec, educational and sports films are exempt from classification.
|PG||Parental guidance advised.|
|14A||For viewers 14 years of age and over or accompanied by an adult.|
|18A||For viewers 18 years of age and over or accompanied by an adult.|
|R||Restricted to viewers 18 years of age and over.|