James Franco and director Travis Mathews' Interior. Leather Bar will screen at the 23rd Melbourne Queer Film Festival, as a replacement for I Want Your Love, which was refused a classification from the chief censor.
Franco co-directed Interior. Leather Bar with Mathews, and the two have offered the film to the festival for free, in the wake of controversy sparked by Franco's criticism of Australian Classification Board.
As reported earlier, Franco posted an online video blasting the Board's decision to deny I Want Your Love a festival exemption, given in normal circumstances, its depiction of gay sex would have garnered it an X 18+ rating.
“It's very short-sighted and very hypocritical... ," Franco said in a video posted on Youtube. "Frankly, adults should be able to choose. They're not going in blind. I don't know why in this day and age a film that is using sex – not for titillation but to talk about being human – is being banned. It's just embarrassing. I hope you'll reconsider”.
The reason given for the ban was because the film contains explicit sex scenes without the narrative context to support the sex scenes.
Interior. Leather Bar will screen at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival after sessions at Berlin and Sundance (read our interview with Mathews). It examines the making of William Friedkin's 1980 film Cruising, which starred Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating a murder in the NYC gay leather bar scene. It reimagines the 40-minute sequence that Friedkin was forced to cut from the film.
“It's a huge coup for us to be able to screen James and Travis' brand new film. Given the recent banning of I Want your Love, a film about censorship couldn't be more topical,” said Melbourne Queer Film Festival director Lisa Daniel in a press release.