The Weinstein Company has announced its intention to appeal the MPAA's decision to assign an "R" rating to its forthcoming Bully, a documentary on 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 is the hope of the filmmakers that it might reach a mass national audience of students and be used as a tool to stop an epidemic of physical, psychological and emotional violence.
The Weinstein Company's 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."
You can check out the trailer for the March 30th release in the player below, courtesy of Moviefone: