How Do Movies Get their Ratings?

In “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” director Kirby Dick uses private investigators to unmask the identities of members of the Certification and Rating Administration. These are the people who rate the movies.

The film presents side-by-side scene comparisons that Kirby contends show how the board’s decisions favor studio releases over independent films while also revealing sexist and homophobic attitudes. The film includes interviews with several filmmakers who have gone through the appeals process to avoid an NC-17, a restrictive rating that limits many films’ distribution and advertising.

“There’s a great antipathy toward the MPAA, even by many people at the studios,” Dick said. Yet while the film includes comments from a series of directors and former board members, he was unable to convince any studio executives to appear onscreen.

Yet Dick claimed he was “so surprised by many who declined. They were afraid it would impact the board’s view of their films in the future, even some who’ve publicly criticized their practices in the past. This fear works in the MPAA’s favor.”

MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman rejects that suggestion.

“I was worried about their personal safety and security,” he said. “They were nervous about it. In this era of NSA eavesdropping, personal privacy is very important. If our employees were harassed or outed by this movie, if (Dick) cased their homes in their environment, that’s why I saw the film. One man got an e-mail that referred to his child. It was not threatening, but it was disconcerting for him. One man had his trash ruffled through.”