Movie Night: Student PSA Films and the BC Cougar

In 2006 the Ontario Film Review Board invited student film makers to submit proposals for Public Service Announcements. The PSAs were to explain ratings systems to theatre goers, and remind parents that they are expected to consider ratings when selecting films for their children. The Board often receives complaints from parents angry that their child was exposed to something objectionable in a film, but in many cases the parents were unaware of the film’s rating or content advisories.

Selected proposals were given funds to create the PSA. The competition was repeated in 2008, and in 2009 British Columbia held a similar competition. The PSAs produced are a mix of various takes on the topic. British Columbia Film Classification posted the films to YouTube, and they are still available.  The OFRB posted the films on their own site, and later removed them. A few are available on YouTube.

A little earlier, in 1960, British Columbia adopted the cougar as a symbol for restricted movies. Chief Censor Ray MacDonald selected the cougar to identify restricted movies as it was dramatic and the largest native cat in BC (yes, it is copyrighted). Meanwhile, Ontario was using a key as the symbol for restricted movies. Theatres played a bumper (short clip) before all restricted films. This (or something very close to it) is the bumper I saw before Body Heat in the early 1980s:

In 1989 the BC film classification office, with NFB animator Hugh Foulds, produced a new series of warnings, still featuring the cougar, though a little sleeker.

All of these are a lot more fun than they had south of the border. No PSAs, and no frills bumper: MPAA Restricted Bumper.

By trc

Freelance writer, freelance editor, web consultant, and film studies scholar.

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