Bully loses its MPAA appeal; Harvey Weinstein considers taking a break from the MPAA

February 24, 2012

This is a terrible shame, and I may write about it more in the future. I saw Bully at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and the decision to give it an “R” rating is incomprehensible. It’s a tough and important film that ought to be shown in every classroom. Below is the text of the press release from The Weinstein Company.

Los Angeles, CA, February 23, 2012 – Following a hearing this morning, The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced that it has lost an appeal of the R rating given to its forthcoming documentary Bully by the Motion Picture Association of America. The MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration originally bestowed the R on the basis of some language that is used in the film, an urgent and intimate look at America’s bullying crisis by award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch.
Although more than half of the appeals board felt that the movie should be rated PG-13, the MPAA rules stipulate that a two-thirds vote is necessary to overturn. The final tally was one vote short of the number needed to reverse the decision.
The appeal board’s decision eliminates the potential for Bully to reach a mass national audience of students through screenings at U.S. middle and high schools, where the film could be used as a tool to stop an epidemic of physical, psychological and emotional violence. Bully is scheduled for release on March 30, 2012.
TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein led the appeal and was joined by Alex Libby, one of the bullied children whose experiences are documented in Bully. The hearing was held at the MPAA’s Sherman Oaks screening room, with Motion Picture Consulting LLC’s Ethan Noble assisting The Weinstein Company.
Following the decision, Weinstein released the following statement:
As of today, The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future. We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far.
I have been through many of these appeals, but this one vote loss is a huge blow to me personally. Alex Libby gave an impassioned plea and eloquently defended the need for kids to be able to see this movie on their own, not with their parents, because that is the only way to truly make a change.
With school-age children of my own, I know this is a crucial issue and school districts across the U.S. have responded in kind. The Cincinnati school district signed on to bus 40,000 of their students to the movie – but because the appeals board retained the R rating, the school district will have to cancel those plans.
I personally am going to ask celebrities and personalities worldwide, from Lady Gaga (who has a foundation of her own) to the Duchess of Cambridge (who was a victim of bullying and donated wedding proceeds) to First Lady Michelle Obama (whose foundation has reached out to us as well), to take a stand with me in eradicating bullying and getting the youth into see this movie without restriction.
Tomorrow morning, Bully director Lee Hirsch will participate in a Q&A session with students at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, following a screening of BULLY at 9:00am. Approximately 150 students from grades 9-11 are expected to attend. Said Hirsch, “Tomorrow’s screening means even more to me in the wake of the decision by the MPAA today. To say that I am disappointed and distressed would be a grave understatement. It is my great hope that Bully reaches the audience for whom it was made: kids, the bullied and the bullies and the 80% of kids who can make the most impact by becoming upstanders rather than bystanders. I am gratified that Harvey Weinstein and TWC share my commitment to getting Bully into America’s schools, where it most needs to be seen.”

1 Comment

  • Comment by keith71_98 — Feb 24,2012 at 8:49 am

    I’ve had issues with the MPAA but from both sides of the spectrum. I am stunned at some of the movies that get PG-13 ratings but are loaded with profanity and sexual content. Yet other films that may feature a little to much gunplay (minus the blood and gore) will get an “R”. Just this year there are movies such as “Haywire” and even “Safe House” that have gotten “R” ratings but aren’t nearly as deserving as others.

    It’s a warped system and it’s evolution hasn’t been consistent.

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