James Franco Protests Australia’s ‘Really Silly’ Decision to Ban Gay-Themed Film (Video)

James Franco is asking the Australian Classification Board to reconsider its decision to ban "I Want Your Love," a feature film from Franco's "Interior. Leather Bar." co-director, Travis Matthews.

"This just is such a disappointment to me and just seems really silly," Franco says in a video uploaded to Matthews' YouTube channel on Monday. 

Also read: Who Is James Franco? Artist Marina Abramović Wants Her Film to Answer That

Matthews' film --'I Want Your Love" --exploring gay male relationships has been banned from screening at festivals in Australia due to scenes containing explicit sex that the censors don't believe have any narrative context.

Franco disagrees.

"Travis is making this film, including sex because he wants to explore story and character in the nuances that sex contains," the actor says. "Because films have been banned because of sex, sex in films hasn't had a chance to grow and become a sophisticated storytelling device."

"I Want Your Love" was scheduled to be screened twice at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival this month, but organizers have reluctantly replaced the programming and apologized to the audience.

"We're shocked that Classification Australia have taken this path. 'I Want Your Love' has screened to critical acclaim at dozens of festivals around the world. Australia is the first film festival to have it banned," a message on the MQFF's website reads. "We're sorry our audience won't be able to make up its own minds about adult content."

Franco, who returns to the box office this weekend in Sam Raimi's "Oz the Great and Powerful," agrees that adults should "be able to choose" their own viewing. 

"They're not going in blind. I don't know why, in this day and age, something like this -- a film that is using sex, not for titillation, but to talk about being human -- is being banned," he concludes. "It's just embarrassing."

Watch Franco's plea:

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Independent Box Office: ‘Stoker’ Debuts to $22K Average

“Stoker,” the psychological thriller from director Park Chan-wook, averaged an impressive $22,689 per theater in its specialty box-office debut this weekend.

Fox Searchlight released the film, starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman, in seven theaters and its grossed $158,822 over the three days. In "Stoker," a mysterious and charming man comes to live with a young woman and her unstable mother after her father dies.

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Also debuting was “Leviathan,” the documentary about the commercial fishing trade in the North Atlantic. It took in $10,018 on one screen at New York's IFC Center, distributor Cinema Guild reported.

Tribeca Films' “War Witch,” the Best Foreign Language Oscar-nominated tale of a 14-year-old African girl telling her unborn child the story of her life amid a war, opened to $10,260 on two theaters.

Also opening was "Hava Nagila," a documentary on the history, mystery, and meaning of the ubiquitous Jewish standard that follows the around-the-world journey of the song from Ukraine to Youtube. Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis and Leonard Nimoy appear in the film, which took in $9,521 from a single New York theater for International Film Circuit.

The Weinstein Company expanded “Quartet,” Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut set in a retirement home for musicians, from 356 theaters to 725. It took in $1.7 million, an average of $2,428 and raised its domestic total after eight weeks to $8.9 million.

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‘How to Survive a Plague’ Miniseries Being Developed by ABC Studios

David France's 2012 documentary "How to Survive a Plague" has been optioned by ABC Studios, which is planning to develop the film into a dramatic miniseries.

The film, which was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature Film category, chronicled the early days of AIDS activism by the coalitions ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group).

Also read: 'How to Survive a Plague' Has a Message for the Young: AIDS Isn't Over

France, who wrote and directed the film, will executive produce the miniseries project, along with Howard Gertler (who produced the film) and John Lyons.

In addition to the Academy Award nomination, "How to Survive a Plague" was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

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Tribeca Picks Rock Documentary ‘Mistaken for Strangers’ as Opening Night Film

"Mistaken for Strangers" will be the opening night film at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring.

The film follows the indie band The National on tour. It was directed by Tom Berninger, who also happens to be the brother of The National's lead singer Matt Berninger.

It's an edgier choice to kick off the festival than "The Five-Year Engagement," the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy that opened Tribeca last year.

"Mistaken for Strangers" also will have its world premiere at the festival. The opening screening will take place on April 17, will be followed by a special performance by The National.

For the uninitiated, The National is a Brooklyn-based band that has been likened to Leonard Cohen and Wilco. Their 2010 album High Violet sold more than half a million copies worldwide. A brand new studio album from The National is slated for a May release.

Their songs have also been featured on the soundtracks to films like "Win Win" and "Warrior."

"When my brother asked me along on tour as a roadie, I thought I might as well bring a camera to film the experience,” Tom Berninger said in a statement. “What started as a pretty modest tour documentary has, over the last two and a half years, grown into something much more personal, and hopefully more entertaining. It's a huge thrill to be showing this movie at the Tribeca Film Festival."

Tribeca runs through April 28.

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Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Bling Ring’ Arrives in June; Sundance Darling ‘The Spectacular Now’ Set...

A24 will release Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring" June 14 and James Ponsoldt's Sundance hit is set for "The Spectacular Now" Aug. 2, the independent distributor announced on Thursday.

A24 acquired both projects in January -- "The Bling Ring" on the eve of Sundance and "Spectacular" after it screened well at the Utah-based festival.

Coppola's film stars Emma Watson as one member of a group of real-life kids who tracked celebrities' wherabouts in order to rob their homes. They stole more than $3 million of goods from the likes of Paris Hilton.

Coppola wrote and directed the film based on Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair article, “The Suspects Wore Louboutins."

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Ponsoldt's film stars Miles Teller as Sutter, a high-school senior who refuses to think about his future as those around him begin to plan for college and the next phase of their lives. After breaking up with his girlfriend, he meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a sweet, hard-working girl whose life contrasts with his own more hedonistic approach. 

"(500) Days of Summer's" Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber wrote the script.

A24 launched publicly last August and just released its first movie, Roman Coppola's "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III." It will open two more in March, "Ginger & Rosa" and "Spring Breakers," before turning to these two summer titles.

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‘Super Troopers 2’ May Shoot This Year

A sequel to the 2001 cult comedy hit “Super Troopers” could begin shooting as early as this year, according to Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, two-fifths of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. 

Broken Lizard, formed at New York's Colgate University in 1990, has written and starred in such films as “Super Troopers,” “Club Dread” and “Beerfest,” all of which member Jay Chandrasekhar directed.

“Super Troopers,” which stars the quintet as a group of lovable, degenerate cops working in Vermont near the Canadian border, grossed $23 million at the box office for Fox Searchlight. Made on a shoestring budget, it alienated many with its crude humor but endures among a young adult crowd.

There have been rumors and discussion of a sequel for years, but Heffernan and Lemme told the website GuySpeed.com this week that it may happen as soon as this year.

“We wrote the script and handed it in to Fox, and now we’re just negotiating the time and the place and hopefully shoot it some time this year. I have to start growing my mustache now,” Heffernan said.

Fox and representatives for various members of the group did not immediately respond to TheWrap's calls for comment.

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Jennifer Lawrence Wins Best Actress Oscar for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Jennifer Lawrence has won the Oscar as Best Actress of 2012 for her portrayal as a young widow in “Silver Linings Playbook.” The 22-year-old actress won in her second nomination; her first came two years ago for “Winter’s Bone.&...

‘Amour,’ ‘Argo’ Win at Cesar Awards

Michael Haneke's drama "Amour" cleaned up at the Cesar Awards in Paris on Friday, taking home numerous top honors including Best Movie, while Ben Affleck's "Argo" took home Best Foreign Language Film.

In all, "Amour" took five awards -- Best Movie; Best Director and Best Original Screenplay honors for Haneke, and Best Actress and Best Actor awards for Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, respectively.

Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" also racked up a number of awards, including Best Male Newcomer for Matthias Schoenaerts, Best Adapted Screenplay for Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, Best Original Soundtrack for Alexandre Desplat, and Best Editing for Juliette Welfling.

"Waterworld" star Kevin Costner took home the Honorary Cesar award.

 

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Somali Refugees From ‘Asad,’ Congolese Actress From ‘War Witch’ to Attend Oscars

Sure, Jennifer Lawrence, Steven Spielberg and George Clooney will be attending the Oscars on Sunday. But how about this for an inspirational trio: Somali refugees Harun and Ali Mohamed from "Asad" and Congolese actress Rachel Mwanza from "War Witch."

Mwanza, the 16-year-old star of Kim Nguyen’s Foreign Language Oscar nominee “War Witch,” has just been granted a visa to travel from the Congo to attend awards shows in North America. The film is a nominee at both the Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards this weekend and is nominated for multiple awards at a pair of Canadian events in March.

Mwanza was living on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, when the filmmakers cast her in the film to play a young girl captured by rebels and forced to become a child soldier.

Meanwhile, Harun and Ali Mohamed, who fled Somalia for Cape Town, South Africa, will attend the Oscars on behalf of “Asad.” The brothers, ages 14 and 12 respectively, star in Bryan Buckley’s film, nominated for Best Live Action Short.

Inspired by a United Nations documentary short, Buckley's film follows a young boy in a wartorn Somali fishing village who must decide between piracy and an honest life.

“South Africa is a relatively young democracy only recently emerged from the shackles of tyranny and prejudice," Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a statement. "We have much to learn and we also have much to teach. 'Asad' is at once a painful reminder of the xenophobia that shamefully still exists in South Africa and a heart-warming tribute to our special ability as members of the human family to heal ourselves.”

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Relativity Moves ‘Turkeys’ Up a Year; Amy Poehler Joins Voice Cast (Exclusive)

Relativity Media has moved up its animated film “Turkeys” by a year and will release it Nov. 1, multiple individuals close to the project told TheWrap. In addition, Amy Poehler has joined the voice cast for the film, which Relativity and Reel FX are co-producing and co-financing, TheWrap has learned.

The movie had been scheduled to debut Nov. 14, 2014, but Relativity and Reel FX made the aggressive scheduling move based on early footage, according to two of those individuals. Development on the project began in June 2009 and physical production began in January 2011.

Poehler, who joins Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, will voice the female lead.

Executives at the studio met about the film this week, weighing the challenges the move will pose to the filmmaking, marketing, sponsorship and merchandising teams with the opportunity to seize this Thanksgiving's family market.

DreamWorks Animation recently moved “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” from Nov. 1 to March 2014, opening the door for kid-friendly fare before the Nov. 22 opening of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Most of the other movies scheduled for October and November will cater to more mature audiences, spanning genres like science fiction ("Gravity," "Ender's Game"), horror ("Paranormal Activity 5," "Carrie") and action ("Malavita," "Thor: The Dark World"). 

Jeffrey Katzenberg's animation house has released a movie in the fall for eight of the last nine years, but its new distribution partner, Fox, moved "Peabody" to March, a month when the studio has had prior success with the "Ice Age" franchise.

Also Read: DreamWorks Animation Braces to Lose $50M on 'Rise of the Guardians' (Exclusive)

DreamWorks Animation had a costly miss last November with “Rise of the Guardians,” which grossed $301 million at the box office -- a healthy sum, but not enough to cover costs. The company is expected to take a hefty write-down as a result in its upcoming fourth quarter earnings.

Reel FX, the Dallas-based animation and visual effects studio behind “Turkeys,” actually sold “Guardians” to DWA five years ago.

“Turkeys” features the voices of Wilson and Harrelson as two spunky birds that take a time machine back to the first Thanksgiving. They want to expunge turkeys from Thanksgiving's culinary tradition. Lesley Nicol of "Downton Abbey," George Takei of "Star Trek" fame, Keith David and Colm Meaney have also been cast. Dan Fogler was already lending his voice. 

Jimmy Hayward is directing the film from a script by Craig Mazin, David I. Stern, John J. Strauss. 

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