Government acting on ‘Show Dogs’ movie age rating, following child sexual abuse alert

A scene from the controversial ‘Show Dogs’movie due for release in South Africa on July 6.

The Minister of Communications Pinky Kekana will appeal the age classification of the 7-9 PG movie Show Dogs which is due for release next week amidst concerns it may contain scenes that groom young children for sexual abuse.

This was confirmed today by Ryan Smit executive director and legal counsel of Cause For Justice (CFJ) which raised the alarm about the film earlier this month when it requested the Minister of Communications to appeal the age classification and request that it be given a more appropriate, higher rating.

Smit said: “The Minister of Communications informed us earlier today that she will be appealing the film’s classification to the Appeal Tribunal, so that is good news.”

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Should the film’s age grading be reclassified, it will have to be changed to a “16” age restriction or higher which will provide protection to younger children potentially at risk.

In addition to petitioning the Minister of Communications earlier this month, CFJ also sent urgent letters to Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro, asking them to request a reclassification of the film, and not to screen it until the problem scenes were removed or its age rating was corrected.

The disturbing content, which provoked an international outcry by parents and experts, shows the main character, an undercover police dog, who competes in a dog show to rescue a kidnapped baby panda, being subjected to unwanted touching of his private parts. To qualify for the final round, he is required to have his private parts inspected. Although he wants the touching to stop, he is told to endure the discomfort by going to a “zen place” for the sake of receiving the reward of qualifying for the final round and rescuing the baby panda.

In response to the outcry in May, the producers of Show Dogs undertook to cut the inappropriate scenes from the film. However, CFJ says this seems to have been a mere publicity stunt, as the disturbing or inappropriate scenes have allegedly not been removed.

Filmfinity which is distributing Show Dogs in South Africa, which is due for release on July 6,  told both CFJ and Gateway News that the version of Show Dogs being released in SA was the version that was edited after an outcry about grooming concerns, and that it had been resubmitted to the Film and Publications Board (FPB) for reclassification and had received a 7-9PG IAT LV certificate.

Presented with evidence that the “edited” version of the movie shown in the US retained the problematic scenes, Filmfinity eventually agreed to a CFJ request for a private screening of the film, subject to it being in the presence and under the auspices of the FPB.

Smit said the CFJ is pursuing the possibility of a private screening with the FPB.

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