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Cleanflix – Documentary about unlawful editing of movies

Posted by LiveFor on April 1, 2010

Dozens of Utah companies attracted unwanted attention from Hollywood heavyweights when, in the name of conservative family values, they began sanitizing films of sex, nudity, profanity, and violence. Outraged over the unauthorized editing of their work, prominent filmmakers began to speak out, thrusting the two groups into a legal, theoretical, and moral battle that would last six years before coming to a shocking conclusion.

Mormons can be movie lovers too. The problem is that their religious leaders strongly discourage R-rated content. As one Mormon prophet explained, “The mind through which
this filth passes is never the same afterwards.” In order to better serve their Mormon
clientele, enterprising video stores in Utah started to offer “clean” versions of popular titles
like The Matrix and Titanic. Using digital editing software, self-appointed censors removed nudity, gratuitous violence and profanity, then mass duplicated the clean versions for DVD rental. Soon the idea took off, and multiple franchises sought to capitalize on brands like CleanFlicks and Flick’s Club. For a brief spell, it seemed like the perfect business.

Unfortunately, no one consulted the copyright holders. Hollywood figures such as Steven Soderbergh, Curtis Hanson and Michael Mann became vocal opponents of having their
work re-edited. As quickly as the clean movement blossomed, it started to unravel, with
legal threats from Hollywood, accusations among rivals and even a sex scandal in the
back room of a clean video store.

In Cleanflix, directors Andrew James and Joshua Ligairi chronicle the rise and fall of the
clean movement. Having grown up in the Mormon community, the duo gained close
access to the main players that outsiders might never have achieved. The controversy
over cleaning films raises further questions: Who gets to set cultural standards? Does
what we watch affect how we behave?

The film gives a broader context for understanding the Mormon institution (known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) by talking to its adherents and those who
have dropped out, most notably the playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute, known for the
dark themes in scripts like In the Company of Men and Bash.

As events unfold, one thing becomes clear: in movies, you can skip over the parts you
don’t like. But in real life, you can’t.

Check out the official site.

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