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Top Gun, Life of Brian and Heidi (2001) don't seem to have anything in common, but in Germany they are all declared "Nicht Feiertagsfrei" and may not be shown in a cinema on some days. Among them is the Friday before Easter (Karfreitag), Volkstrauertag (14th November), and Buß- und Bettag (17th November).

It is the FSK that declares a movie "Nicht Feiertragsfrei", but what legal basis do they have?

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  • Heidi has beeb re-evaluated in 1980 and has no restrictions now, i.e. it is 'FSK6'. – TaW Feb 13 at 10:05
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    @TaW Not the 2001 Heidi - the producers didn't bother to request Feiertagsfreigabe afaik. – Trish Feb 13 at 10:29
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    Right. It is only about cinemas, I think, not about TV. FSK itself has suggested that all its findings and rulings should be re-evaluated by society. – TaW Feb 13 at 10:50
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Federal law protecting public holidays

This explains that this has been the law since 1952 when the FRG was granted autonomy following World War 2.

They are films that contradict the "serious nature" of these holidays and which are to be feared that they violate "religious and moral feelings", according to the guideline of the FSK .

Which holidays fall into the category is a matter for the states, which films fall into the category is a matter for the Federal FSK.

As social attitudes have changed, fewer and fewer films are categorised as Nicht Feiertragsfrei; over 60% were in the 1950s, less than 1% were in the 2010s.

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  • Its worth noting that classifications rarely change - a movie that was classified as "nicht feiertagsfrei" might very well not get the same classification if it was submitted today -- but the old classifications stays nonetheless. This leads to the odd circumstance where more modern movies can be shown, but even more "harmless" ones that simply happen to be older can't. – Polygnome Feb 12 at 22:18
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    @Polygnome yes, but few movies go back to cinemas 40 years after release. In any event, movies can be re-examined. – Dale M Feb 12 at 22:25
  • Yes, they can be. But in my experience, having a movie re-examied is quite rare. It is usually simply not worth the effort, thus the old, now outdated classification usually stands. Of course, exceptions prove the rule... – Polygnome Feb 12 at 22:28
  • @Polygnome they are usually re-examined if they are being re-released in cinemas. – Dale M Feb 12 at 22:29
  • And that happens how often? Movies can be shown in cinemas without re-relase. It happens all the time. An actual re-relase is rare, to say the least, while showing older movies is a regular occurrence. – Polygnome Feb 12 at 22:31
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The FSK doesn't have a direct legal mandate to decide which movies may be shown on quiet holidays. Nevertheless, it's categorization is generally respected.

The FSK is a voluntary self-censorship institution by the German movie industry, which does have a legal mandate for the purpose of child and youth protection per § 14 JuSchG. It primarily provides an age rating for every submitted movie.

In § 28 of its charter, the FSK has tasked itself with also deciding suitability for quiet holidays upon request, noting that these holidays have additional protections under various state laws.

For example, the Bavarian Art 3 FTG outlaws public entertainment events unless the “serious nature” of these special holidays is maintained.

What does and doesn't maintain the serious nature depends on the social context. The classification of the FSK has become substantially more liberal over time. Whereas almost any children movie would have previously been forbidden, it's now largely horror flicks.

It is possible that a movie theatre could show a movie without suitable FSK classification. However, the theatre would do so at its own risk, and would likely get sued by religious/moralistic groups.

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  • There is no legal basis for a private group to sue a movie theatre not complying to the Feiertagsgesetz. The local authorities can/have to prosecute this as a Ordnungswidrigkeit. – K-HB Feb 13 at 18:56

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