Toronto Film School drops title from curriculum after sexually explicit scene between adult and child characters shown to class

(The Lover/Internet Movie Database (IMDB))

The Toronto Film School (TFS) has removed a title from an international film class curriculum following a complaint made after a professor presented a film to students featuring a sexually explicit scene between two fictional characters — one of which was an underage girl.

The film, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “The Lover” (1992), tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who begins a romantic relationship with a 32-year-old man.

The scene in question, in which the two characters have sex, takes place around 30 minutes in.

The actress who played the 15-year-old girl, Jane March, was 17-years-old when production began and turned 18 while filming was ongoing. It remains unclear whether she was underage while filming the sexually explicit scenes.

Toronto Film School acknowledged the complaint in a statement to CTV News Toronto and confirmed that they removed the film from their curriculum after the complaint was lodged.

“[TFS] continually [guides] faculty and [works] to improve our understanding of how to minimize any potential negative impacts on students when selecting artistic works to examine in class,” Paula Shneer, Vice President of instruction at TFS told CTV News Toronto on Thursday.

“The use of trigger warnings is a topic that we explore with faculty in relation to sensitive/graphic content that may present itself in a film,” she said.

Schneer says that, although TFS “[strives] to ensure artistic works selected have a strong connection to the cinematic themes and techniques explored within the curriculum,” there is room for improvement.

“We welcome feedback from students in order to achieve this. We are committed to working collaboratively across Toronto Film School to refine our processes and guidance around the topic of trigger warnings,” she said.

CTV News Toronto spoke to one student present during the showing, who stated that the scene was “completely inappropriate.”

The student objected to viewing what they identified as statutory rape and said that, initially, their complaints weren’t heard when put forth to the professor.

However, they said that once the complaint was brought to the Board of Directors, action was swiftly taken.

The student said that the professor who showed the film is now “gone.”

A spokesperson for Toronto Film School said the school does not comment on personal employee status.