MUFF Press Release on LA Zombie charges
January 24, 2011
FILM FESTIVAL DIRECTOR ADDRESSES POLICE CHARGES
Melbourne Underground Film Festival director, Richard Wolstencroft, has addressed charges laid against him by Victorian Police after he screened a banned copy of the Canadian film LA Zombie at last year’s festival.
“It is unfortunate that the year has begun with charges being laid against me and MUFF in relation to the screening of LA Zombie at the close of last year’s successful festival,” Wolstencroft said, defending his decision to screen the film on anti-censorship grounds.
“LA Zombie is a film made by a well-renowned and established queer filmmaker, Bruce LaBruce, who has had his work played at a number of established film festivals all over the world.”
“Our only intention was to play this important work of cinematic art to an appreciative adult audience after its screening was cancelled by the Melbourne International Film Festival due the OFLC’s absurd decision not to grant it exemption to screen.”
“We strongly reject the decision of the OFLC in this matter, considering it totally inappropriate and out of touch with community standards. Our screening at MUFF 11 went ahead and was a great success.”
“Two months later my home was raided by police searching for a copy of LA Zombie. Why an artistic director who runs an established film festival like MUFF should have such draconian tactics used and applied to him over a work of art in our day and age is another problem altogether. I had made sure two months earlier that I didn’t have a copy and that our only copy had been destroyed. Worldwide media attention followed, including an article in The New York Times.”
“We received letters of support from Bruce LaBruce and Camille Paglia, Jack Sargeant, and a host of other film industry luminaries, including the directors of Toronto and the Raindance Film Festival. I would like to thank all of those who offered their support.”
“Last Thursday, January 20, I was informed that I had a summons to pick up at my local police station. I did so and immediately contacted my lawyers. Attached to the summons was a diversion notice, agreeing to settle the matter without a felony on my record and with a donation to charity.”
“If the matter were to proceed to court, the charges carry a potential penalty of two years jail and a large fine.”
“Two of Melbourne’s top legal minds, Bryce Menzies and Barrister Peter Clarke, have come to my defense pro bono. I feel I would like to pursue this matter further, but have been put between the proverbial rock and hard a place.”
“I shall be discussing this matter further with friends, advisors and my legal team.”
Wolstencroft and his legal team said they would issue another press release on the matter when the time is appropriate.