The obscenity trial of a Montreal make-up artist began Tuesday morning as the first witness took the stand.
Remy Couture is charged with producing and distributing obscene material after a short movie he created caught the attention of police in Austria.
Called Inner Depravity, Couture made the film in 2007 and it features violent sexual assaults, some of which appear so realistic that police in Austria thought it depicted actual murder.
They advised Interpol, which brought the film to the attention of Montreal police.
In 2009, police arrested Couture, saying the scenes in the movie depicting violence and cruelty were graphic to the point of obscenity.
During the trial psychiatrists will testify for the prosecution that such realistic depictions can arouse, provoke and inspire others.
The Crown will also call several police detectives to explain documents they seized when they searched Couture's premises.
On Tuesday, police investigator Christina Vlachos described how she landed the Couture obscenity case in 2009 after it was brought to the attention of Austrian and German police, then Interpol, then the RCMP, then the Surete du Quebec, then Laval police and finally into her hands.
Because police thought the violence in the film was real, they sent a tactical squad to arrest Couture and raid his apartment.
They found a basic artist studio containing special-effects material.
The 12 members of the jury will have to decide what constitutes obscenity in Canada, an admittedly subjective concept.
The prosecution claims such a level of violence is no longer art, but instead fits the definition of obscenity as defined by the Criminal Code, that is: the exploitation of sexuality through violence and cruelty.
The seven women and five men on the jury were warned they’d have to look at several gory images, many of which were shown in the courtroom Tuesday.
The short movie attracted a cult following when it was released online.
If found guilty, Couture faces a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
Regardless of the verdict, court observers say this case is likely to head to the Supreme Court of Canada for a final resolution.
The case continues tomorrow, when a psychologist from the University of Los Angeles will take the stand and explain why these images should be considered unacceptable and might even trigger sadistic fantasies in deviant predators.