Sickies Making Films


A love letter to the movies, Sickies Making Films looks at our urge to censor films and asks why? We find reasons both absurd and surprisingly understandable. Using the Maryland Board of Censors (1916-1981) as a lens, as well as archival materials, classic film segments, and interviews with filmmakers and exhibitors who were subjected to censorship, this documentary examines the recurring problem of censorship in America.

Running time: 84:30

Filmmaker's Statement

Can we all agree that censorship is bad? What lies behind the urge to censor art? This project started as a short film about one outspoken and freewheeling Maryland film censor, Mary Avara. I was curious about what came before the current MPAA movie rating system and how a character like Avara could thrive and hold so much sway in such a system. As I dug in to do my research I realized that the story of movie censorship, which spans roughly from the early 1900s to 1981 in the U.S., was replete with outspoken, freewheeling characters, fascinating stories, and complicated legal battles. I often found stories underscoring the urge to censor movies in which good intentions went horribly awry and sometimes I found a lack of good intentions all together. Occasionally I encountered instances whereby the urge to censor seemed a reasonable reaction. Sickies Making Films isn’t so much an argument against censorship as it is a celebration of freedom, the human spirit, and the art of cinema—warts and all.