The Policeman
A scene from 'The Policeman'. Photo by Amit Berlovitz
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The Israel Film Council voted on Monday to overturn its earlier decision to restrict admission to the film "The Policeman" to adults 18 and older. Instead, it will be limited to ages 14 and up.

The council also decided that from now on, any decision to limit a film to ages 18 and up will require the full council's approval. Subcommittees, like the one that imposed the original age restriction on "The Policeman," will no longer have this power.

The council's meeting was called in light of the media storm that erupted over last week's decision to impose an "adults only" restriction on "The Policeman." Given that the film, directed by Nadav Lapid, contains no serious violence or crude sexual content, the three-member subcommittee's decision to impose the age limit seemed bizarre, and the film's creators charged that it was political: One of the film's subplots depicts a gang of young anarchists who protest economic inequality by kidnapping wealthy businessmen.

Culture Minister Limor Livnat subsequently asked the council's chairman, Nissim Abouloff, to convene the full 14-member council to reconsider the decision.

"In both cases, the decision to restrict the film's audience was made because of the unique violence that an anarchist group employs against wealthy businessmen in the film," Abouloff said. "But when the subcommittee discussed the film, it viewed this with great severity, whereas the full council, though it also attributed importance to it, did not view it with the same severity."

Lapid, whose film has already won several prizes, said he was pleased that the age limit had been lowered, but added that he considers the imposition of any age restriction absurd.

"This whole story of restricting the age of film audiences is ridiculous, in my view, and I don't really understand who these people are who have been deemed suitable to judge which film is suitable for which ages," he said. "This film has much less on-screen violence than any average American action film, or any Israeli film about the Israel Defense Forces. It appears that, for the council, opposing the tycoons constitutes violence but soldiers engaging in combat isn't violence."

"When it comes to an internal social struggle, a struggle against the tycoons, they suddenly see this as illegitimate violence," he said. "In essence, this is an ideological definition of violence."

Abouloff acknowledged yesterday that the rating system is problematic and said he thinks it should be changed.