Turkish adult animation Bad Cat, which opened in UAE cinemas over the weekend, is raising hackles among audiences, seemingly due to poor enforcement of the existing rating system by certain cinemas.
The movie, which markets itself as an adult comedy, has been given a PG-15 certificate in UAE cinemas, and features a promotional poster clearly stating “not suitable for kitties.” It opens with its star, Sero the cat, smoking while using the lavatory, and that pretty much sets the tone for the 90 minutes or so of toilet humour, profanity and cartoon violence that follows.
For one major cinema chain, however, it seems that the film’s certification, as well as repeated warnings about the film’s content from distributor Front Row Entertainment, was not enough to make them aware of what they were screening. The chain in question has complained to Front Row about the language in the film, saying that an average of 10 customers per screening are demanding a refund, and consequently said that it will drop the movie from its programme.
Front Row’s Gianluca Chakra says: “The film received a PG from the censor. We actually got a ‘clean’ version from the studio for release, because the original version is insane, but even then we still asked the cinemas to push it to PG-15. They did, but one exhibitor appears to not have been enforcing it. We’ve had no issues with the other theatres.”
Chakra adds that he does not consider the situation to be a problem with censorship, but rather with a particular exhibitor’s inability to enforce the rules as they stand: “I don’t have a problem with the censor, this is a PG-15 film and I’m fine with that,” Chakra says. “It’s certain cinemas that seem to be not enforcing the ratings, and seem to be programming films that they don’t know anything about. We sent them everything, we warned them that it was adult content, but I just don’t know if they even read it. It’s like they just went ‘oh yeah, it’s an animation, that’s for kids.’”
Chakra has a point. A cursory one minute and 16-second glance at Bad Cat's trailer will reveal drinking, smoking and kitty-on-kitty violence.
Recently the relevant authorities have been making an effort to put greater emphasis on ratings in UAE cinemas, with posters and tickets clearly displaying relevant restrictions. Chakra says: “There was a meeting recently for the whole ratings system, but I wasn’t able to attend. They were discussing guidelines and we sent over recommendations, but I honestly don’t know if anything was ever taken into account officially. We didn’t receive any feedback.”
Bad Cat is directed by Mehmet Kurtulus and Ayse Unal, and based on the graphic novel Kotu Kedi Serafettin by Bulent Ustun. It is, for the time being at least, in UAE cinemas now.