MPAA To Clarify Ratings System

By Rich Drees


     January 17, 2007- After being the brunt of criticisms from filmmakers and moviegoers alike, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will unveil a series of changes and improvements to its film rating system next Monday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Daily Variety reported last night.


     The revisions come one year after director Kirby Dick’s documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated , which premiered at last year’s Sundance festival, blasted the MPAA and the secretive nature of how the Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA), the arm of the MPAA responsible for administrating the film rating process, works. Dick’s film contended that the process by which a film is rated often favors movies produced by the major studios that coincidentally fund the MPAA over fare produced by smaller, more independent studios, often giving the less harshly-rated film an economic advantage at the box office.


     (For more on Kirby Dick and This Film Is Not Yet Rated see the FilmBuffOnLine feature article here.)


     MPAA head Dan Glickman and CARA chair Joan Graves, both targets in Dick’s expose, will meet with independent film directors, producers and representatives from smaller distribution companies to review the changes.


     While not all of the details have been finalized, many of the changes aim to dispel the confusion and misinformation that circulates about the ratings process. The basic standards for each film rating will be posted on the MPAA website. The ratings and appeal process will also be detailed and include a link to the paperwork needed to submit a film for a rating. Although the names of CARA’s team of film raters will continue to be anonymous, more demographic information about the ratings board will be made available. Also, new members of the ratings board will now undergo a formalized training period. If a dire