Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why are the classifications on television advertisements, home video trailers, and the film's website different than at the theatre?

The classifications you most commonly see in television advertisements, in trailers on home entertainment products, or on the websites for films are those of the American ratings body, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Canada is considered part of the American domestic advertising market and film distributors don't usually change their advertising for use in Canada. Confusion results because the MPAA and Alberta Film Classification use different classification systems and different ratings categories.

The Alberta classification (the one you will find at the theatre and the legal classification for the province) can be found by clicking the Movie Search tab above.

American MPAA ratings (voluntary)       Alberta Movie Ratings (legislated)
G Suitable for all audiences   General (G) Suitable for viewing by all ages.
PG Some material may not be suitable for children   Parental Guidance (PG) Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.
PG-13 Parents strongly cautioned: some material may not be suitable for children under the age of 13   14A Suitable for viewing by persons 14 years of age or older. Persons under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain violence, coarse language, and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
R Under 17 requires accompanying parent or guardian   18A Suitable for viewing by persons 18 years of age or older. Persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror.
NC-17 No one under 17 admitted   Restricted (R) Admittance restricted to persons 18 years of age and older. Content not suitable for minors. Contains frequent sexual activity, brutal/graphic violence, intense horror and/or other disturbing content.

Q. What is subject to classification in Alberta?

Any filmed entertainment playing in public for an admission fee must be classified. This includes but is not limited to films playing at a commercial theatre, repertory screenings, outdoor screenings, and fundraisers. Any time admission is charged, the film must be classified.

Screenings of pre-recorded filmed live performances (such as concerts or works of theatre), as well as live-streaming special event presentations such as sporting events, which cannot be pre-screened by Alberta Film Classification, are exempt from classification and viewers attend at their own risk.

Q. Why does the classification on the home video release sometimes differ from the classification in the theatre?

The Canadian classification affixed to DVDs and Blu-Rays is determined by averaging the classifications of the five English-language Canadian Film Classification offices; classifications from these offices may vary according to unique community standards in each province. The averaging is done by the Motion Picture Association - Canada, which is committed to providing Canadian classification information on video/DVD/Blu-Ray packaging for Canadian consumers.

Q. Who classifies television programming?

Alberta Film Classification does not rate television programs, home video, or internet content. Television program classifications are provided by individual broadcasters according to guidelines set by the Canadian Action Group on Violence on Television. The classifications are designed for use with the V-chip technology available on current television models.

Q. Why do some films have different classifications in other provinces?

In Canada, movie classifications are assigned by individual provinces according to the prevailing community standards for that province. There are six classification offices that view and classify all films scheduled for public exhibition. Provinces that do not have their own classification office use the classifications assigned in partner provinces.

British Columbia Film Classification
Alberta Film Classification
Manitoba Film Classification Board
Ontario Film Authority
Régie du Cinema (Quebec)
Nova Scotia Film Classification

Q. Does Alberta Film Classification cut or ban films?

In short, no. Alberta is the second province in Canada to surrender its powers of censorship and under the Film and Video Classification Act has no authority to cut or ban films from being shown in the province

Q. Who are the classifiers and what are their qualifications?

Alberta Film Classification is a section of the Arts Branch of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It is made up of a board of professional full-time film classifiers whose job it is to see every movie that is shown in public for an admission fee.

Film classifiers are hired on the basis of their knowledge of film and the history of film classification issues, their ability to represent the attitudes of the Alberta public, their communication skills, and their interest in child development and media awareness strategies.

Current film classifiers include men and women of various ages and backgrounds. They share a common interest in the many issues raised by entertainment media in contemporary Alberta society

Q. How can Albertans have their voice heard about film classifications?

Please visit the Contact Us page in order to be able to reach Alberta Film Classification by phone, fax, or email. Alberta Film Classification welcomes feedback from the public regarding the classification system.

Residents of Alberta can also volunteer to serve on a Film Rating Reconsideration Panel. In certain instances when a film's distributor disagrees with the classification Alberta Film Classification has assigned, a board of the public is convened to view the film and provide advice on the classification. For more information about volunteering to take part in the reconsideration process, please visit our Reconsideration Panel page.