Harvey Weinstein is taking on the MPAA once again with The Weinstein Company’s (TWC) latest release Bully. This time around TWC is out to reduce the R rating “for the kids.” Stating that “BULLY could not be screened in U.S. middle and high schools” because of the restricted rating. I get what they are going for here, but I also remember bringing home slips from school so we could watch Saving Private Ryan during history class, so it’s not that hard of a go around. That being said I’ve never been a fan of the MPAA, so go Harvey!
New York, NY, February 21, 2012 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today plans to appeal the MPAA’s decision to assign an “R” rating to its forthcoming documentary BULLY, an urgent and intimate look at America’s bullying crisis by award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch. The “R” rating was made on the basis of “some language,” and restricts children under 17 from seeing the film unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. As a result, BULLY could not be screened in U.S. middle and high schools, where it might otherwise reach a mass national audience of students and 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 will appeal the MPAA rating, and will be joined by Alex Libby, one of the bullied children whose experiences are documented in BULLY. The hearing will be held at the MPAA’s Sherman Oaks screening room on February 23rd with Motion Picture Consulting LLC’s Ethan Noble assisting The Weinstein Company.
Discussing the pending appeal, BULLY director Lee Hirsch said, “I made BULLY for kids to see – the bullies as well as the bullied. We have to change hearts and minds in order to stop this epidemic, which has scarred countless lives and driven many children to suicide. To capture the stark reality of bullying, we had to capture the way kids act and speak in their everyday lives – and the fact is that kids use profanity. It is heartbreaking that the MPAA, in adhering to a strict limit on certain words, would end up keeping this film from those who need to see it most. No one could make this case more powerfully than Alex Libby, and I am so proud and honored that he is stepping forward to make a personal appeal.”
Said Weinstein, “I have great respect for the work Chairman Joan Graves and the rest of the MPAA governing body do. I have been compelled by the filmmakers and the children to fight for an exception so we can change this R rating brought on by some bad language. As a father of four, I worry every day about bullying; it’s a serious and ever-present concern for me and my family. I want every child, parent, and educator in America to see BULLY, so it is imperative for us to gain a PG-13 rating. It’s better that children see bad language than bad behavior, so my wish is that the MPAA considers the importance of this matter as we make this appeal.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Safe and Drug-Free Schools estimates that over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. In the new documentary BULLY, award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch (AMANDLA! A REVOLUTION IN FOUR-PART HARMONY) brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.
By Ryan Davis