|This Film is Not Yet Rated|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kirby Dick|
|Produced by||Eddie Schmidt|
|Written by||Kirby Dick
|Music by||Michael S. Patterson|
|Edited by||Matthew Clarke|
|Distributed by||IFC Films
|Running time||97 minutes|
This Film is Not Yet Rated is a 2006 independent documentary film about the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system and its effect on American culture, directed byKirby Dick and produced by Eddie Schmidt. It premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festivaland was released limited on September 1, 2006. The Independent Film Channel, the film's producer, aired the film later that year. It was rated TV-MA in the United States.
The MPAA ironically gave the original cut of the film an NC-17 rating for "some graphic sexual content" – scenes that illustrated the content a film could include to garner an NC-17 rating. Kirby Dick appealed, and descriptions of the ratings deliberations and appeal were included in the documentary. True to its title, the new version of the film is not rated.
The film discusses disparities the filmmaker sees in ratings and feedback: betweenHollywood and independent films, between homosexual and heterosexual sexual situations, between male and female sexual depictions, and between violence and sexual content.
Much of the film's press coverage was devoted to Dick and his crew's use of a private investigator, Becky Altringer, to unmask the identities of the ratings and appeals board members.
Other revelations in the film include: the discovery that many ratings board members either have children 18 and over or have no children at all (typically, the MPAA has suggested it hires only parents with children between the ages of 5 and 17); that the board seems to treat homosexual material much more harshly than heterosexual material (this assertion is supported by an MPAA spokesperson’s statement in USA Today that "We don't create standards; we just follow them"); that the board's raters receive no training and are deliberately chosen because of their lack of expertise in media literacy or child development; that senior raters have direct contact in the form of mandatory meetings with studio personnel after movie screenings; and that the MPAA's appeals board is just as secretive as the ratings board, its members being mostly movie theater chain and studio executives. Also included on the appeals board are two members of the clergy (one Catholic and one Protestant, who may or may not have voting power).
Prior to Sundance, the film sparked initial press interest when it was handed an NC-17 rating by the MPAA for "some graphic sexual content." When it premiered at Sundance, the film's ratings deliberations, along with Kirby Dick’s appeal, were included in the documentary. Since the film had changed dramatically from the time of the NC-17 rating, the film cannot be released with an MPAA rating without the film being resubmitted for review.
People interviewed in the documentary include:
According to the investigation done within the film, the following people (as of 2006) have been named as members of the MPAA review board, also known as CARA. Included is their age, marital status, and the age of their children as of 2005 when the film was shot. These details play a huge part in the film, as the MPAA states (according to the film) that the board is composed of real, average American parents (with children between the ages of 5 and 17) who serve fewer than 7 years.
Head of the Board: Joan Graves (the only member of the board whose information the MPAA makes public)
According to the investigation done within the film, the following people (as of 2006) have been named as members of the MPAA appeals board:
This Film Is Not Yet Rated uses clips from several films to illustrate its criticisms of the MPAA ratings board. Dick had originally planned to license these clips from their studio owners but discovered that studio licensing agreements would have prohibited him from using this material to criticize the entertainment industry. This prompted him to invoke the fair use doctrine, which permits limited use of copyrighted material to provide analysis and criticism of published works. The film's success has spurred interest in fair use, especially amongst other documentary filmmakers.
At Sundance, the film received a standing ovation amidst a wave of favorable coverage by major publications. The magazines Rolling Stone ("terrific...indispensable"), Entertainment Weekly ("irresistible") and USA Today ("rated R for raves"), as well as journalists such asRoger Ebert ("devastating") and Film Comment’s Gavin Smith ("incisive") praised the film for its novel techniques and unprecedented revelations that dispute longstanding MPAA statements about the ratings system.
Some critics disliked the film. Boxoffice, a magazine dedicated to the financial side of movie exhibition, wrote that This Film Is Not Yet Rated paid only passing mention to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), which was a co-founder in the ratings system (the focus of the film was on the MPAA). In its two-part essay, Boxoffice also called the documentary "willfully distorted." David Poland, who runs "Movie City News", wrote, "Even though it speaks to a subject I think is very important—the failures of the rating system and, specifically the NC-17—the tough, smart research just isn't in the film."
On January 24, 2006, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) admitted to making duplicates of a digital copy of the film that was provided to them for the purpose of obtaining a MPAA rating. According to the film's director, Kirby Dick, he sought assurances that no copies would be made or distributed for any other purpose.
The MPAA admitted to making copies of the film contrary to Dick's wishes although they contend that doing so did not constitute copyright infringement or a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). They say that the privacy of the raters themselves might have been violated by Dick, but no complaint has been filed against him. Dick's lawyer, Michael Donaldson, has requested that the MPAA destroy all copies of the film in their possession and notify him of who has seen the film and received copies.
The DVD version of the film contains deleted scenes that showed both phone calls where Kirby Dick was assured that no copy would be made, and the last one, during which he found out that a copy had indeed been created.