The Weinstein Company and one of the film’s subjects will appeal the MPAA”s decision give an “R” rating to their upcoming documentary “Bully,” which tackles the nation’s school bullying epidemic.
The film, directed by Lee Hirsch (“Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony”), was assigned the rating because of “some language.” The “R” means that “Bully” can’t be screened in U.S. middle and high schools, although that’s exactly where the footage was shot. TWC is hoping “Bully” will strike a nerve with school-aged viewers, whether they are among the bullies or the bullied.
TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and Alex Libby, one of the documentary’s bullied students, will appeal the MPAA’s decision on February 23.
“I made ‘Bully’ for kids to see – the bullies as well as the bullied,” director Lee Hirsch explained in a release. “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.”
“I have great respect for the work Chairman Joan Graves and the rest of the MPAA governing body do,” added Weinstein. “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.”
“Bully” will be released March 30.