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
  • Kirby Dick
  • Becky Altringer
Edited byMatthew Clarke
Music byMichael S. Patterson
Distributed byIFC
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. It premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and received a limited theatrical release on September 1, 2006. IFC, the film's distributor, aired the film later that year. As it includes numerous clips from films rated NC-17 to illustrate content that had garnered the rating, the MPAA rated an early version of the film NC-17 due to "some graphic sexual content". Dick appealed this rating so he could chronicle both the rating and appeals process of the early version of the film in the final version, which, true to the title, is not rated.

The film discusses a number of alleged disparities in the ratings the MPAA gives films and the feedback it gives filmmakers based on whether the project is a studio or independent film, whether the questionable content is violent or sexual in nature, and whether sexual content is heterosexual or homosexual and centers on male or female pleasure.

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:

  • 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 rent or 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
  • That the appeals board includes two members of the clergy, one Catholic priest (Father Dave) and one Protestant (James Wall), who may or may not have voting power

The film sparked some interest in the press when the MPAA rated it NC-17 for "some graphic sexual content". Then, when it premiered at Sundance, it was discovered that the rating process for an early version of the film and Dick’s appeal of that rating were depicted in the finished film. As the additional footage changed the film significantly, the NC-17 could no longer be used for the finished film, which would need to be resubmitted to the MPAA to receive a rating of its own. It never was, however, so the film was released without a rating.

After Sundance, the film went on to draw crowds at many other festivals, including South by Southwest and the Seattle International Film Festival, and received a theatrical release in fall 2006.


Those interviewed in the film include:

MPAA rating board[edit]

According to the investigation depicted in the film, the following people were, as of 2006, members of the MPAA rating board, also known as CARA (Classification and Rating Administration). (Included is the personal information the film revealed about them, such as their age, the age of their children, and how long they had been on the board. These details were significant in the context of the film's critique of the MPAA ratings process, as the MPAA had said (according to the film) that the review board was composed of average American parents, with children between the ages of 5 and 17, who serve on the board for fewer than seven years.):

  • Head of the Board: Joan Graves (the only member of the board whose identity the MPAA had already made 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 board[edit]

According to the investigation depicted in the film, the following people were, as of 2006, members of the MPAA appeals board:

Fair use[edit]

This Film Is Not Yet Rated incorporates clips from a number of films to illustrate its criticisms of the MPAA rating board. Dick had originally planned to license the clips from their 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 using this tactic spurred interest in fair use, especially among documentary filmmakers.[5]

MPAA infringements[edit]

Before Dick sent the film to the MPAA to receive a rating, he was assured that the tape he submitted would not be viewed for any purpose other than rating and that no copies would be made or distributed, but, on January 24, 2006, the MPAA admitted to making duplicates of the film contrary to Dick's wishes.[6] However, they contended that doing so did not constitute copyright infringement or a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and said the privacy of the raters themselves might have been violated by Dick in the course of making the film, but no complaint had been filed against him.[6] Dick's lawyer, Michael Donaldson, requested that the MPAA destroy all copies of the film in their possession and notify him of who had seen the film and received copies.[7]

The DVD release of the film contains deleted scenes that show phone calls where Dick was assured by representatives of the MPAA that no copy would be made, as well as the one during which he found out that a copy had indeed been created.


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 84% based on 118 reviews, and an average rating of 7.20; the critics consensus calls it: "A fascinating and entertaining film that will open many eyes to the often-questioned tactics of the MPAA and their ratings system."[8] On Metacritic the film has a score of 75 based on reviews from 33 critics.[9]

At Sundance, the film received a standing ovation and 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. 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] Boxoffice, a magazine dedicated to the financial side of movie exhibition, wrote that This Film Is Not Yet Rated only made a passing mention to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), which was a co-founder of the ratings system (the focus of the film was on the MPAA). In its two-part essay, Boxoffice also called the documentary "willfully distorted."[citation needed]


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. Fandango Media. 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.

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