James Franco says an Australian government ban on several public screenings of the gay film "I Want Your Love" over "explicit sexual activity" is "silly" and "embarrassing."
The 34-year-old actor made his comments in a video posted on the official YouTube page of his colleague and the movie's American director, Travis Stewart, on Monday, March 4.
The Australian Classification Board, a government group that rates movies, TV shows and video games for mature content, had last month ordered that "I Want Your Love" would not receive a classification exemption, which means it could not be screened at several film festivals, including the Brisbane Queer Film Festival, due to its display of "explicit sexual activity."
"This just is such a disappointment to me and just seems really silly," Franco says in the YouTube video. "He was using sex in a very sophisticated way."
"I Want Your Love" has been screened elsewhere, such as at the Image + Nation LGBT Fest in Canada and the Hong Kong LGBT FIlm Fest . The movie is about a gay artist who plans to move from San Francisco back to his hometown in Ohio. He has sex with his male friends at his goodbye party.
"I Want Your Love" was produced by a gay porn studio and the film's official website, which states that "Mathews produced the idea for a narrative film that would use explicit sex to create an unflinchingly honest portrait of gay life."
Franco says in the YouTube video that the film inspired him to work with Stewart. The two collaborated on another sexual movie, the bondage-themed "Interior. Leather Bar."
"Sex is such a big part of our lives and even if it's not a part of your life, that's a conscious choice to keep it out," he adds. "It's how we create children, it's how we connect. To keep it from films that want to explore it as human behavior is very short-sighted and I think very hypocritical."
"Adults should be able to choose"
The New York Times said the movie "blurs the line between narrative storytelling and pornography" and "seems to mark "a conscious effort to take back gay sex on film from the pornography industry and show comfortable, nonperformance-oriented lovemaking among men who have genuine affection for one another."
"I don't think we'd be having this conversation if he had made a very violent film," Franco says in the video. "So the point is, Travis is making this film and including sex because wants to explore story and character and the nuances that sex contains and because films have been banned because of sex, sex in films hasn't had a chance to grow and become a sophisticated storytelling device and frankly, adults should be able to choose."
"They're not going in blind," he added. "I don't know why, in this day and age, a film that is using sex, not for titillation but to talk about being human, is being banned. It's just embarrassing. So I hope you'll reconsider and have a nice day."
The Australian Classification Board has not commented about his remarks. Meanwhile, Franco is set to appear on film screens himself soon, in the PG-rated Disney movie "Oz the Great and Powerful," which will be released on Friday.
Watch James Franco's video condemning the decision to ban "I Want Your Love."