In surprising news, Variety reports that the Swedish film Ciao Bella has been pulled from the Norwegian International Film Festival due to controversy about its "graphic sex scenes." Variety's Gunnar Rehlin says that the picture, which opened in its native land earlier this month, "carries a G rating in Sweden where sex, even among young people, is not considered shocking. By comparison Borat, R-rated in the U.S., also received a G rating in Sweden." Now that a base line for comparison has been set, what's so shocking about Ciao Bella?

I found a Swedish-language review at Moviezine which appears quite positive; I don't read Swedish but I'm guessing that a rating of 4 out of 5 is good. Moviezine embedded a YouTube trailer for the film, which is NSFW but doesn't promote the sex scenes out of proportion to the rest of the story. The official site is entirely in Swedish. According to an unofficial IMDB synopsis, an immigrant Iranian teenage boy finds that girls just want him as their friend. When his soccer team heads cross town to compete in a championship series, he decides to pretend to be Italian so he can improve his romantic possibilities (shades of Breaking Away). Meanwhile, a bored suburban girl is looking for a stylish, passionate boyfriend. When the two meet, sparks -- and, evidently, clothes -- fly. Both characters are reported to be 16 years of age.

Is Norway really more conservative than Sweden when it comes to the depiction of young people having sex on screen? Director Mani Maserrat-Agah told Variety that foreign distributors want the sex scenes cut: "I'm in shock over the fact that in 2007 we still find it hard to depict youth sexuality on film." Personally, I'm surprised that the Norwegian festival would pull the film; why not let people see it and decide for themselves if it's too graphic?
categories Movies, Cinematical