Film classification guidelines – Restricted (Artistic) category
by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala
The Restricted (Artistic) or R(A) category was introduced by the government on 15 September 1991 to raise the age of admission to restricted films to 21 years.1 Only films with artistic merit were allowed such a rating and they could only be screened in the city area.2
The R(A) category was introduced to replace the Restricted or R-rated category,3 which was launched on 1 July 1991 to relax film censorship so that those who were 18 and above could be admitted to films that were deemed unsuitable for younger audiences. Such films would have content involving some form of nudity, sexual expression, expletives and violence.4
The move to introduce the more stringent R(A) category came after feedback from a large majority of Singaporeans indicated they were against the indiscriminate flood of exploitative R-rated movies being screened and the perceived detrimental effect they had on Singapore youth.5
One of the fundamental changes under the new R(A) ruling was the raising of the age barrier from 18 to 21 years. Films with erotic, violent or exploitative themes were not allowed. Instead, serious films which met well-defined artistic standards, for example films that were critically-acclaimed or that had a strong story line, would still be allowed without excessive cuts.6
In 1992, the government sent letters to local cinema operators stating that they could no longer screen R(A) movies in cinemas located in residential estates.7 Following this, R(A) movies were banned in cinemas within these estates, and could only be screened in cinemas situated in the central business district.8
On 1 June 1993, the government introduced a new NC-16 (no admission to children under 16) category. This further tightened existing standards for movies under the ‘Parental Guidance’ or ‘PG’ category. The NC-16 was aimed at further protecting young people, because although scenes of nudity, sex and violence in ‘PG’ movies were cut, some were still considered unsuitable for the young without parental guidance.9
In 2003, based on the Censorship Review Committee’s recommendations, the government revised the film classification guidelines again to introduce a new Mature 18 (M18) rating category. This category enabled film goers from the age group of 18 to 21 to watch quality movies with mature themes that would have previously been rated R(A). The previous R(A) rating was renamed R21 but would still be applicable to those aged 21 and above. The revised ratings took effect on 29 March 2004, and was aimed at protecting the interests of the young while allowing greater freedom of choice for mature movie goers.10
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. New rules for ‘R’ movies. (1991, September 7). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Tan, H. Y. (1992, May 21). No R(A) films at HDB estate cinemas. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. New rules for ‘R’ movies. (1991, September 7). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Less censorship in adult movies for those over 18. (1991, March 23). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. New rules for ‘R’ movies. (1991, September 7). The Straits Times, p. 1; Film measures appropriate. (1991, September 11). The Business Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. New rules for ‘R’ movies. (1991, September 7). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Tan, H. Y. (1992, May 21). No R(A) films at HDB estate cinemas. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Censorship Review Committee. (2010). Report of Censorship Review Committee 2010. Singapore: Censorship Review Committee Secretariat, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 363.31095957 SIN)
9. Pereira, M. (1993, May 28). New NC-16 rating. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Yah, S. M., & Ho, M. (2004, February). Revised ratings for films. MeDiA fusion. Singapore: Media Development Authority, p. 17. (Call no: RSING 384.54095957 MF)
Ho, K. (2002, April 10). Film-rating system here is maturing. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Koh, B. S. (1998, May 16). Rocky road for S’pore artists in search of more freedom? The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Koh, B. S. (1994, February 8). Liberalising the arts takes time. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.