January 17, 2007

Kirby Dick Does The 'Ha Ha, Told You So' Dance

When Cinecultist saw the Sundance fave from last year, Kirby Dick's documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated we could hardly believe how bizarre the MPAA's governing practices are. Between secretive review boards, seemingly fluctuating standards and a Byzantine appeals process, it hardly seemed possible that this secretive organization could wield so much power over the movie distribution industry. Interestingly, and at this year's Sundance no less, Motion Picture Association of America chairman Dan Glickman and Classification and Ratings Administration chairwoman Joan Graves will sit down at a breakfast with producers, directors and filmmakers to discuss changes to the rating's board policy, according to Reuters.

Some of proposed modifications to be announced officially at ShoWest:
- Expand the appeals board membership
- Allow filmmakers to cite precidents when appealing a rating decision
- Reveal more information about the board's demographic
- Identify the senior raters
- Formalize the rules of who can be on the board and for how long
- Formally train the raters
- Explain more to the public about the MPAA's role and standards for ratings

But the real question is did the docu, wherein Dick interviews filmmakers censored by the board and tries to reveal the board members identities with the help of private detectives, directly cause this announcement? Glickman says no, that "he began reaching out to the independents as soon as he took over from Jack Valenti, the lobbyist who came up with the ratings system, in September 2004. 'There was a feeling of detachment and alienation, and I wanted to open a dialogue with them,'" he told Reuters.

We're skeptical of this denial but still excited for the movie industry that they're own self-regulating body will be more responsive to the changing cultural tastes of America and the artistic envelope-pushing of moviemakers.

[Pictured (from left): Director Atom Egoyan interviewed by Kirby Dick in This Film Is Not Yet Rated]

Posted by karen at January 17, 2007 11:54 AM