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Bioscope en l'an 1900
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Hébert, Pierre, Kenneth Landry, Yves Lever (eds.). 2006.Dictionnaire de la censure au Québec. Montréal: Fides.
The Board of Censors of the Moving Pictures of the Province of Quebec
Before film screenings even began, Quebec already had a strong tradition of literary censorship.
In its early years, film encountered little resistance, although it should be noted that screenings often included Passion plays, which pleased the Catholic clergy.
However, it did not take long before film aroused fierce opposition from the Church, which attempted over the course of the 1910s to prevent screenings on Sundays and to prohibit children from entering cinemas.
In 1912, the government created The Board of Censors of the Moving Pictures of the Province of Quebec, which officially began operation on May 1, 1913. Films could not be projected without their authorisation. They either approved or rejected the entire film or removed the offending segments which did not conform to official morals. From 1913 to 1930, some 70% of films were approved in their entirety, 22% were more or less butchered by the censors and the remaining 8% were rejected – though most of these were accepted once they were cleaned up by the distributor.
What did censors remove mostly? Long kisses, provocative clothing, scenes showing how to carry out certain crimes, references to divorce and suicide, images mocking French Canada, any criticism of religion or clerics and so on.
In April 1926, exasperated by the censors, American distributors threatened in all seriousness to boycott Quebec. This triggered a political crisis and, in the end, the boycott did not happen.
At the end of the Silent Era, approximately 25% of films screened in Quebec were modified either by the Office or by distributors. Among the films that never reached Quebec screens were some of the best works by Griffith, Stroheim, Murnau, Eisenstein and early Buñuel.