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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Taking MPAA shots: has This Film is Not Yet Rated inoculated its interviewees?

So how on earth did Kevin Smith get that R rating on a single pass from the notoriously dodgy and inconsistent MPAA, considering that they warn us that it’s filled with “pervasive sexual and crude content including aberrant sexuality, strong language and some drug material”? (As Smith put it to me, “When the dust settled, I was just like… Are they fucking nuts? Did they see the same movie?”) egoyan_dick740_2.jpgKirby Dick has suggested that the filmmakers he interviewed for This Film Is Not Yet Rated could be inoculated from future ratings battles with a press-shy MPAA. Smith was notably harsh toward ratings board chair Joan Graves in Dick’s pic; other frank interviewees include John Waters, Matt Stone, Kimberly Peirce, Atom Egoyan [pictured], Darren Aronofsky, Mary Harron and distributor Bingham Ray. Over at Filmmaker, Anthony Kaufman gets Dick to expand on this notion. As for his own future dealings with the board, the filmmaker says “I think there is a clever construction of the film: since it is about the MPAA, I think it’s very unlikely that they would come after me or IFC because they’re already portrayed negatively in the film and they would be portrayed in the press even more negatively. The amount of publicity around the film would double. The MPAA is very savvy in the way that it’s dealt with its public relations… If I submit a film for a rating, I’m certain some of them might harbor those feelings towards me. But on the other hand, I think, myself, and all the filmmakers who appear in the film, we’re inoculated in a way, because the press will pay attention, particularly, if my film goes in front of the rating board. The last thing that the MPAA wants to do is bring attention to the process. It wants to operate under the radar as much as possible. I don’t think they’d cut me any breaks, but I don’t think they’d be exceedingly harsh on my films.” There’s valuable material about the film’s application of Fair Use in the interview, and in a piece on the film’s post-production, Elina Shatkin describes another rights issue. “The third act also contains the film’s most clever visual trick. Dick recorded his initial phone conversation with Joan Graves, chair of the MPAA’s ratings board. For subsequent conversations, Graves did not give her consent to have her side of the conversation recorded. Dick’s side of the calls were filmed, however, so Dick had voiceover actors re-enact Graves’ side of the calls. The final image is a split-screen, with the actual video footage of Dick talking on the phone on one side and a Waking Life-style animated version of “Joan Graves” on the other.”

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch