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Ifco stands by 18s rating for Irish film despite it being given a 15s cert in the UK

Kissing Candice is the debut feature by director Aoife McArdle.

A still from Kissing Candace.
A still from Kissing Candace.
Image: Youtube/Scannain

THE IRISH FILM Classification Office (Ifco) has upheld an 18s rating for an Irish film by a debut director despite the film being given a 15s rating in the UK.

Kissing Candice by award-winning ad and music video director Aoife McArdle is due for release in the coming months but it will not be seen by the young people it portrays due to its classification.

The film is about a young girl in a border town who first dreams of and then meets a young boy who’s connected to a gang that is terrorising her town.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been shown at other youth-orientated festivals but its distributors have failed to have the classification changed in Ireland after requesting a review of the 18s cert.

Wildcard Distribution is the Irish distributor for the film and its managing director Patrick O’Neill has said that the company was surprised when it was given an 18s cert.

“We just thought the rating was a little harsh for the film, we just thought something along the lines of a 15A or a 16 would have been more in keeping with the content of the film,” O’Neill said.

This film was made for a youth audience, and has already screened at festivals throughout the world, including the Generations strand of the Berlinale, and Cinemagic, which both select films specifically for under 18s.

Ifco’s classification of the film says that the film contains “scenes of strong drugs abuse, strong violence and language and strong sex references” and was therefore given an 18s rating.

The UK’s British Board of Film Classification was less severe in its rating of the film, giving it a 15s cert and noting that it contained “very strong language, strong threat, drug misuse”.

In terms of the film’s sex references, the BBFC says that the film features “one sequence where a woman masturbates in bed”.

Source: Irish Film Institute/YouTube

Wildcard Distribution said it accepted Ifco’s decision not to overturn its initial rating of the film but added that it will affect how the film is marketed in Ireland and will restrict the audience for McArdle’s work.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the director of film classification at Ifco Ger Connolly said the rating was in part due to the conflation of violence, threat and drug use by teens in the film.

“Regarding an appeal, I did, on request from the distributor, have a second look which did not change my opinion. I also explained that there was the option of a formal appeal to the Classification of Films Appeal Board, which is a totally independent body. They chose not to avail of this option,” Connolly added.

Although the film is the director’s feature debut, she has won numerous awards for ads for brands such as Audi, Honda and Samsung. Only this week she was named by Adweek in a list of filmakers alongside Greta Gerwig, Spike Jonze and Ava DuVernay.

“Aoife’s a real talent, she’s a visionary director, she’s going to go so far,” O’Neill told TheJournal.ie.

“This is her feature debut. So I just think it’s a bit of a shame because it’s kind of reflective of what teenagers are watching and at any screening we’re aware of where a teen audience has watched it they responded very positively.”

Kissing Candice is released in cinemas on 22 June

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Rónán Duffy

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