This morning, the local licencing officer, John Burke of Southampton City Council arrived at the cafe, with Sergeant Stewart Chandler, Licencing Chief for the city..... saying that the Art House were not allowed to show the film as it had not been certificated.
As a small venue who had only invited people known to them, Art House staff were not aware that they needed a license or certification to show this film to about 12 people, free of charge! The governments own White Paper states that licensing laws were never meant to cover smaller venues, and this law is currently under review.
The Art House later received a call from Sergeant Stewart Chandler.
He wanted assurance that the Smash EDO campaign group will not be turning up at The Art House tomorrow - apparently he is very concerned about "potential disorder in and around the premises" although when asked to clarify what he meant, he got rather vague, asking if the Art House was aware of the group's reputation as "left wing anarchists".
Art House staff were given the very clear impression that not only were they not allowed to show the film, but if the members of smash EDO were to arrive, it would be a problem.
It was abundantly clear from the conversation that the lack of certification for the film, and indeed the lack of entertainment licence, was not the issue. The smash EDO campaign report that this scene has been repeated at other venues where the film was due to be shown.
It seems that what the British Film Board refer to as a 'grey area' of certification is being used to prevent the showing of a film which challenges arms manufacturers and police behaviour at protests. Nice!
The Art House have contacted their MP and local councillors calling for a full investigation into what is quite clearly censorship by bureaucracy.