The New York Times called it "a conscious effort to take back gay sex on film." Indiewire called it "a must see," and the London Guardian called it "a welcome shift in queer cinema" and "an embrace of the real."
But in Australia, San Francisco gay film "I Want Your Love" can only be called one thing: banned.
The Bay Area film community is reeling from news that Travis Mathews' "I Want Your Love," a drama that includes a gay sex scene, is forbidden from being shown in Australia.
In Australia, rated X films are not allowed to be screened in a public theater. However, unrated films with explicit content may apply for a rating exemption from the Australian Classification Board so they can appear at festivals. But "I Want Your Love" was denied such an exemption, thus banning the film from being publicly screened anywhere in the country.
The move has drawn backlash from both the film and LGBT communities. Actor James Franco called the decision "an embarrassment," and some critics of the ban have called it a homophobic double standard.
In a statement, the Classification Board explained its decision to The Huffington Post.
"In considering whether to grant an exemption, [I am] required to apply the 2007 Film Festival Guidelines," wrote Board Director Lesley O’Brien. "Under those guidelines, if it is likely that a film would be classified X 18+, the film will not be granted an exemption. In this case, the film contains detailed and prolonged scenes of actual explicit sexual activity."
Indeed, the Film Festival Guidelines state:
If in the opinion of the Director, whether based on the synopsis, other material, inspection of the film, or any other grounds, an unclassified film would be classified X 18+ or RC [refused classification], the Director will not grant an exemption.
But director Travis Mathews pointed out that films with sexually explicit heterosexual content have made the cut.
"They allowed a film last year called 'Donkey Love' about beastiality in Columbia," Mathews told HuffPost. "In 2006, they allowed '9 Songs' which shows vaginal penetration, oral sex and ejaculation."
The film's producer, NakedSword.com president Tim Valenti, agreed.
"Is it a double-standard? You can look at the history and tell me," he told HuffPost. "But does gay sexuality make film censors uncomfortable? Absolutely."
Mathews argued that, regardless of the motivation, the ban is outdated, and is keeping important film from Australian audiences.
"I can argue that the sex in my film enriches the storyline all day," he told HuffPost. "But the point is, this is an outdated method that is keeping a film of value out of Australia."
In an online video urging the Board to reconsider, James Franco, Mathews' friend and colleague, agreed.
"This is such a disappointment to me and just seems really silly," he said. "Adults should be able to choose. They're not going in blind. I don't know why in this day in age something like this--a film that is using sex not for titillation but to talk about being human is being banned. It's just embarrassing."
Valenti argued that bans against adult content have a broader impact, especially in the context of gay cinema.
"I think this has made us realize what's at stake with something like this," he told HuffPost. "It isn't just Australians that can't see the film. It's people across the world, whether it's because of a conservative government board or a closed-minded small town or a personal closet."
Also on HuffPost:
New York lawmakers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/24/new-york-gay-marriage_n_907901.html" target="_blank">legalized same-sex marriage on July 24, 2011</a>, making it the largest state at the time to pass such legislation.
Voters in Maryland <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/gay-marriage-victory_n_2085900.html" target="_blank">approved marriage equality in the November 2012 election</a>. Initially, the gay marriage bill was signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on March 1, 2012, but opponents gathered enough signatures to force the issue back onto the ballot. With the passing of marriage equality, same-sex marriage <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/31/maryland-gay-marriage_n_2389044.html" target="_blank">ceremonies began on Jan. 1, 2013</a>.
Connecticut's Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/10/connecticut-gay-marriage_n_133605.html" target="_blank">ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry on Nov. 12, 2008</a>, making it the third state in the nation to do achieve marriage equality.
Iowa's Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/03/iowa-gay-marriage-ban-rul_n_182782.html" target="_blank">ruled the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional</a> on April 3, 2009.
Maine <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/gay-marriage-victory_n_2085900.html" target="_blank">made history in the November 2012 election</a> when it became the first state to pass marriage equality on the ballot. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, "Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage." Just three years ago, a popular vote overturned legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-legal-same-sex-marriage-performed-in-massachusetts" target="_blank"> legalize same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004</a>. The state's Supreme Court initially found the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional on Nov. 18, 2003.
Same-sex couples were able to <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-6042937.html" target="_blank">begin seeking marriage licenses</a> on Jan. 1, 2010.
Vermont, which invented civil unions, became <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/07/vermont-legalizes-gay-mar_n_184034.html" target="_blank">the first state to legalize gay marriage through a legislature's vote</a> -- overriding the governor's veto. Same-sex couples were able to begin marrying on Sept, 1, 2009.
Gay couples were able to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/01/gay-marriage-dc-council-p_n_375435.html" target="_blank">begin marrying in the nation's capital</a> on March 9, 2010.
The state initially began conducting gay marriages on June 16, 2008. On November 5, 2008, however, California <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/proposition-8-timeline_n_3503512.html" target="_blank">voters passed Proposition 8</a>, which amended the state's constitution to declare marriage as only between a man and a woman. On June 26, 2013, by a 5-4 vote, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/hollingsworth-v-perry-ruling_n_3438269.html" target="_blank">the Supreme Court justices held in Hollingsworth v. Perry</a> that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial, opening the door for marriages to resume in the state.
On February 13, 2012, Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/washington-gay-marriage-signed-chris-gregoire_n_1273887.html" target="_blank">signed a law allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies</a> to begin on June 7, 2012. The process was delayed by gay marriage opponents who gathered enough signatures to put the issue up to a state vote in November 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/09/washington-gay-marriage-law_n_2266574.html" target="_blank">Gay marriage passed on November 7, 2012.</a> The official determination for Washington did not come until one day after the election because of the state's mail-in voting system.
Gay marriage came to Rhode Island when Governor Lincoln Chafee <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/gay-marriage-minnesota-rhode-island_n_3686034.html" target="_blank">signed the marriage equality bill</a> into law on May 2, 2013.
Delaware obtained gay marriage when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/delaware-gay-marriage-law-_n_3232771.html" target="_blank">Governor Jack Markell signed the marriage equality bill it into law</a> on May 7, 2013.
Minnesota same-sex couples achieved marriage equality when Gov. Mark Dayton signed the legislation into law <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/minnesota-gay-marriage-legal-_n_3275484.html" target="_blank">on May 14, 2013</a>.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/cory-booker-same-sex-marriage_n_4134116.html?&ir=Gay%20Voices&utm_hp_ref=gay-voices" target="_blank">began marrying same-sex couples</a> at City Hall at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2013.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed same-sex marriage into law on Nov. 13, 2013, making it the 15th state to pass such legislation.
Illinois became the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, with the House <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/illinois-gay-marriage_n_4220793.html" target="_blank">having passed the bill on Nov. 5</a>. and Gov. Pat Quinn signing the legislation on Nov. 20.
On Dec. 19, the New Mexico Supreme Court <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/new-mexico-gay-marriage_n_4474507.html?ir=Gay%20Voices" target="_blank">unanimously ruled</a> that same-sex marriage rights are protected under the Constitution.