This Film Is Not Yet Rated

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This Film Is Not Yet Rated
TFINYR poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKirby Dick
Written by
Produced byEddie Schmidt
Edited byMatthew Clarke
Music byMichael S. Patterson
Distributed byIFC Films
Release date
  • September 1, 2006 (2006-09-01)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$339,609[1]

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a 2006 American documentary film about the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system and its effect on American culture, directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Eddie Schmidt. The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and was granted a limited theatrical release on September 1, 2006. The film's producer, IFC, aired the film later that year.

The project discusses alleged disparities the filmmaker sees in ratings and feedback: between Hollywood and independent films, between homosexual and heterosexual sexual situations, between male and female sexual depictions and between violence and sexual content.

The MPAA gave the original cut an NC-17 rating for "some graphic sexual content" – scenes that illustrated the content a film could include to garner such a rating. Dick appealed, and descriptions of the ratings deliberations and appeal were included in the documentary. True to its title, the final cut is not rated.

Themes and discussion[edit]

Much of the film's press coverage was devoted to Dick and his crew's use of private investigator Becky Altringer to unmask the identities of the ratings and appeals board members.

Other revelations in the film include:

  • The discovery that many ratings board members either have children 18 and older or have no children at all (typically, the MPAA has suggested it hires only parents with children between the ages of 5 and 17)
  • That the board seems to treat homosexual material much more harshly than heterosexual material (this assertion is supported by an MPAA spokesperson’s statement in USA Today that "We don't create standards; we just follow them")
  • That some sexual activities are frequently treated more harshly when it involves female orgasm or nontraditional sexual activities
  • That NC-17 ratings often significantly reduce a film's chances of success at the box office and overall commercial success, because many movie theaters will not show NC-17 films, and if they do it is for very limited time periods
  • That NC-17 ratings are also harmful to home media sales, as many brick and mortar retailers do not sell NC-17 or unrated movies
  • That harsher film ratings are particularly detrimental to smaller and independent filmmakers, who often do not have the financial and professional support of major distribution companies
  • That the board's raters receive no training and are deliberately chosen because of their lack of expertise in media literacy or child development
  • That senior raters have direct contact in the form of mandatory meetings with studio personnel after movie screenings
  • That the MPAA's appeals board is just as secretive as the ratings board, its members being mostly movie theater chain and studio executives. Also included on the appeals board are two members of the clergy, one Catholic priest (Fr. Dave) and one Protestant, who may or may not have voting power.

Prior to Sundance, the film sparked initial press interest when it was handed an NC-17 rating by the MPAA for "some graphic sexual content." When it premiered at Sundance, the film's ratings deliberations, along with Dick’s appeal, were included in the documentary. Since the film had changed dramatically from the time of the NC-17 rating, the film cannot be released with an MPAA rating without the film being resubmitted for review.

The film went on to draw crowds at many other festivals, including South by Southwest and the Seattle International Film Festival, and was slated for theatrical release in fall 2006.


People interviewed in the documentary are:

MPAA board, 2005[edit]

According to the investigation done within the film, the following people (as of 2006) have been named as members of the MPAA review board, also known as CARA. Included is their age and the age of their children as of 2005 when the film was shot. These details are significant in the context of the film's critique of the MPAA board, as the MPAA's requirements for board membership (according to the film) are that the board is composed of real, average American parents (with children between the ages of 5 and 17) who serve fewer than seven years.

Head of the Board: Joan Graves (the only member of the board whose information the MPAA makes public)

  • Anthony "Tony" Hey – 61 – age of children: 16, 28, 30
  • Barry Freeman – 45 – elementary school aged children
  • Arlene Bates – 44 – age of children: 15 and 23
  • Matt Ioakimedes – 46 – age of children: 17 and 20 (had served as a rater for 9 years as of 2005)
  • Joan Worden – 56 – age of children: 18 (twins)
  • Scott Young – 51 – age of children: 22 and 24 (next-door neighbor of Arlene Bates)
  • Joann Yatabe – 61 – age of children: 22 and 25
  • Howard Friedkin – 47 – no children (aspiring screenwriter)
  • Corri Jones – age of children: 3 and 8

MPAA appeals[edit]

According to the investigation done within the film, the following people (as of 2006) have been named as members of the MPAA appeals board:

Fair use[edit]

This Film Is Not Yet Rated uses clips from several films to illustrate its criticisms of the MPAA ratings board. Dick had originally planned to license these clips from their studio owners but discovered that studio licensing agreements would have prohibited him from using this material to criticize the entertainment industry. This prompted him, alongside prominent copyright attorney Michael C. Donaldson, to invoke the fair use doctrine, which permits limited use of copyrighted material to provide analysis and criticism of published works.[3][4] The film's success has spurred interest in fair use, especially among other documentary filmmakers.[5]

MPAA infringements[edit]

On January 24, 2006, the MPAA admitted to making duplicates of a digital copy of the film that was provided to them for the purpose of obtaining an MPAA rating. According to director Dick, he sought assurances that no copies would be made or distributed for any other purpose.

The MPAA admitted to making copies of the film contrary to Dick's wishes[6] although they contend that doing so did not constitute copyright infringement or a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They say that the privacy of the raters themselves might have been violated by Dick, but no complaint has been filed against him.[6] Dick's lawyer, Michael Donaldson, has requested that the MPAA destroy all copies of the film in their possession and notify him of who has seen the film and received copies.[7]

The DVD release contains deleted scenes that showed both phone calls where Dick was assured that no copy would be made, and the last one, during which he found out that a copy had indeed been created.


Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" score of 84% based on 117 reviews; the consensus states: "A fascinating and entertaining film that will open many eyes to the often-questioned tactics of the MPAA and their ratings system."[8] Metacritic gives the film a score of 75 based on reviews from 33 critics.[9]

At Sundance, the film received a standing ovation amidst a wave of favorable coverage by major publications. The magazines Rolling Stone ("terrific...indispensable"), Entertainment Weekly ("irresistible"), and USA Today ("rated R for raves"), as well as journalists such as Roger Ebert ("devastating") and Film Comment's Gavin Smith ("incisive") praised the film for its novel techniques and unprecedented revelations that dispute longstanding MPAA statements about the ratings system.

Some critics disliked the film. Boxoffice, a magazine dedicated to the financial side of movie exhibition, wrote that This Film Is Not Yet Rated paid only passing mention to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), which was a co-founder in the ratings system (the focus of the film was on the MPAA). In its two-part essay, Boxoffice also called the documentary "willfully distorted." David Poland of Movie City News wrote, "Even though it speaks to a subject I think is very important—the failures of the rating system and, specifically the NC-17—the tough, smart research just isn't in the film."[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award nominations for This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Year Award Organization Category Result
2006 Austin Film Critics Award Austin Film Critics Association Best Documentary Won[11][12][13]
Critics Choice Award Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Documentary Feature Nominated[12][13][14]
2007 Golden Trailer Award Golden Trailer Awards Best Documentary Won[15][16][17]
GLAAD Media Award Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Outstanding Documentary Nominated[18][19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. December 21, 2006. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  2. ^ James Wall's blog
  3. ^ Schager, Nick (2006). "Unfair Use: An Interview with Kirby Dick". Slant Magazine. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  4. ^ Cullum, Paul (August 17, 2006). "Freedom of Information: Copyright and its Discontents". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (February 22, 2007). "Insurance for documentary 'fair use'". Variety. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  6. ^ a b MPAA admits to unauthorized movie copying
  7. ^ MPAA accused of DVD piracy Archived April 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "This Film is Not Yet Rated". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "This Film Is Not Yet Rated Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "For Movie Folks Who Considered Burning Down The Ratings Board When The Adjustment Was Enuf". Movie City News. Retrieved August 19, 2009.
  11. ^ Austin Film Critics Association (January 2, 2007). "2006 Awards". Austin Film Critics Awards. Austin, Texas: Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  12. ^ a b "This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2005) – Awards". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2013. Archived from the original on May 18, 2013. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  13. ^ a b "This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2005) – Awards". Allmovie. Rovi Corp; 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  14. ^ Roger Moore (December 13, 2006). "Friday, This Film is Not Yet Rated". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  15. ^ "GTA 8 WINNER – Best Documentary Trailer". Golden Trailer Awards. 2009. Archived from the original on May 7, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  16. ^ "8th Annual Golden Trailer Award Winner and Nominees". Golden Trailer Awards. May 31, 2007. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  17. ^ Edward Douglas (May 31, 2007). "The 8th Annual Golden Trailer Awards Winners!". Crave Online Media, LLC. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  18. ^ Kevin Wicks (January 22, 2007). "BBC America scores two GLAAD Media Award nominations". BBC America. BBC Worldwide Americas, Inc.; Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  19. ^ Go Mag News Staff (June 10, 2009). "Controversial Documentary Outs Closeted Anti-gay Politicians". GO Magazine. GO NYC Media, LLC.; Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  20. ^ Richard Ferraro (January 21, 2007). "GLAAD anuncia los nominados y galardonados especiales de la decimo octava ceremonia anual de los premios GLAAD". Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (in Spanish). Retrieved March 4, 2012.

External links[edit]