Films for juniors

Mary Campbell heralds an outbreak of common sense on baby and carer screenings of films.

Any parents with a baby under one will attest to the bliss of places where babies are welcomed with open arms. Cinemas are one such place in recent years with special carer and baby screenings. But there is a catch.  Currently, if a film is showing, say, an 15 certificate film, it cannot be shown at a parent and baby screening because – you guessed it – the baby is not 15.

So today, I was delighted when the council’s licensing committee accepted my proposal to look into a scheme which would allow cinemas to show films above a 12A rating in special screenings.

I brought this motion forward after my own experiences as a new parent. As the primary carer of a child under one, your life can change dramatically. You can become isolated, you are often suffering from sleep deprivation, or post-natal depression, and something that helps during these times is that ability to continue with activities you have always enjoyed.  To meet this need there are groups where you can bring your baby to jogging, yoga, swimming, and other activities, and there are cinemas where you can bring your baby under one year of age to enjoy the latest films. These screenings are very different from your average screening, with lights up, a lower volume, and the freedom to feed and change babies as needed.

Currently cinema licensing is administered by local councils, which use the age certificate issued by the British Board of Firm Classification to regulate who can attend film screenings. This means that while you can currently attend a baby screening of Maze Runner: The Death Cure, or the upcoming Black Panther, both rated 12A with loud and explosive action sequences, you cannot attend a screening of Oscar-nominated Phantom Thread, or Loveless, which are 15-rated due to strong language. This leads to challenges for our local arthouse cinemas, Filmhouse, Cameo and Dominion, which often drop baby screenings or repeat films, as their content is often rated 15. This means that parents and carers who are looking forward to baby screenings are left disappointed and miss out on the chance to catch the best in cinema on the big screen.

I am pleased that the council is taking this step, and I hope it will help make the lives of parents and carers, and our local cinemas, just that little bit easier.

Mary Campbell is Green councillor for Portobello Craigmillar