The MPAA has assigned an “R” rating for the upcoming theatrical release of the documentary Bully (pictured), a decision which will be appealed by the film’s backers The Weinstein Company.
The Lee Hirsch-directed doc, which takes a look at America’s bullying crisis, was given the “R” rating due to “language,” which restricts children under 17 from seeing the film unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The film is scheduled for a release on March 30.
TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein will appeal the rating alongside Alex Libby, one of the bullied children featured in the film. They hope to gain a PG-13 rating at the hearing held on February 23.
Because of the prohibitive rating, Bully can’t be screened in U.S. middle and high schools, where it could be used as a tool to stop the bullying epidemic. On the pending appeal, 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.”
Added 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.”