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Sickies Making Films

A Film By Joe Tropea and Robert A. Emmons Jr.

85 minutes

Scene Selection • Closed Captioned

Grades 11 - Adult
Item #:SMF - 1143

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K-12 Schools, Public Libraries, Non-Profits - $89
Colleges, Businesses, Other Institutions - $295
Colleges (DVD with Digital Site License) - $395
FEATURING JOHN WATERS

Decades before the existence of the MPAA and an implemented rating system, the United States had censors. At least seven states and dozens of cities across the country empowered government-employed censors to injudiciously cut films prior to their exhibition or even outright ban them. Sickies Making Films uses the nation's longest surviving censor board as a window into the tangled history of American movie censorship.

The film explores the question of why film censorship happens and the politics and prejudices involved by using several classic examples as case studies. Ranging from understandable to highly absurd, films were chopped or blocked due to things like unacceptable violence, language, or sexuality. Government appointed censors literally shaped the films their regional audiences could access.

One such strong willed personality, Mary Avara, made herself known as part of the Maryland State Board of Censors, the longest running censor board in the country. Avara became one of the last censor's standing and became somewhat of a fixture on late night television in part to her very public clashes with fellow Marylander John Waters.

A love letter to the movies, Sickies Making Films -- which is a direct quote from Avara herself -- crafts a hilarious yet informative tale examining the recurring problem of censorship in the United States.

SPEAKER AVAILABLE
Director/Producer/Writer Joe Tropea currently works at the Maryland Historical Society where he is the Curator of Films and Photographs. He is also a co-founder of the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising Archive Project.

 

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FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT: "This project started as a short film about one outspoken and freewheeling Maryland film censor, Mary Avara. I was curious about what came before the current MPAA movie rating system and how a character like Avara could thrive and hold so much sway in such a system. As I dug in to do my research I realized that the story of movie censorship, which spans roughly from the early 1900s to 1981 in the U.S., was replete with outspoken, freewheeling characters, fascinating stories, and complicated legal battles. I often found stories underscoring the urge to censor movies in which good intentions went horribly awry and sometimes I found a lack of good intentions all together. Occasionally I encountered instances whereby the urge to censor seemed a reasonable reaction. Sickies Making Films isn't so much an argument against censorship as it is a celebration of freedom, the human spirit, and the art of cinema -- warts and all."
-Joe Tropea
Sickies Making Films

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