“Are these the actions of a filmmaker or a censor?” Sari Braithwaite wonders aloud halfway through [CENSORED]. She’s referring to her decision to exclude clips from her film because of their ‘vileness’. You see, Braithwaite’s film is compiled from clips excised from films imported into Australia from the late ‘50s to the early ‘70s. But this isn’t an act of filmmaking or censorship; it’s criticism.

Unfortunately, it’s bad criticism. [CENSORED] has a killer premise and its collated clips are frequently interesting, but it lacks the context needed for great criticism. I don’t think it’s a problem that Braithwaite soon slides into the personal essay genre, reflecting on her own reaction to the clips, particularly in the context of the over-representation of violence against women. But it is a problem that she fails to offer up sufficient context – whether of the films these clips were culled from, or the censorship era of the time – to justify her undercooked conclusions.

It’s easy to imagine a better version of [CENSORED], one that uses its clips to either offer a well-researched, educational interrogation of Australian censorship, or one that edits them together to evoke rather than explain its themes. This is not that film.

2 stars

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