Movie Ratings and Independent Cinema

Just a quick link for now: David M. Halbfinger has an article in today’s NYT promoting Kirby Dick’s latest documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, which is set to debut at Sundance (it’s unrated, naturally).

Dick, who also directed Derrida and Tiwst of Faith, explores some of the inconsistencies and flaws in the ratings system, including the unsurprising observation that similar scenes of gay sex tend to be tagged with higher ratings than similar heterosexual sex scenes. He also discovered that the ratings board would often collaborate more willingly with the major studios than independent filmmakers, which probably isn’t terribly surprising but does constitute a kind of limit on indie filmmakers who seek a wider audience for their films.

But the film’s main concern appears to be the secrecy of the ratings board, whose members are not identified (at one point Dick describes them as a kind of “star chamber”). Because the film will likely be released without a rating (or, at best, with an NC-17), it will be interesting to see how widely the film will be released, but I think the film is tackling an interesting–and often overlooked–aspect of the institutional culture of filmmaking.

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