This Is Not a Film [2003]

As it turns out, Kirby Dick's eye-opening documentary isn't rated. When he submitted it to the Motion Picture Association of America, they slapped it with an NC-17 (though he had always intended to release it unrated). This is fitting since he sheds much-needed light on the inner workings of a secretive organization that wields great power over the movies the public gets to see (since most mainstream media won't touch the dreaded NC-17). It's just as well since This Film Is Not Yet Rated focuses on the more controversial films of the past three decades. Aside from the stories of filmmakers who have tussled with the MPAA, Dick hires a private investigator to determine who sits on the board, since this information isn't in the public domain. With her assistance, he solves the mystery. Directors include Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), Mary Harron (American Psycho), and Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry). Though frequently humorous, This Film Is Not Yet Rated should be required viewing for serious film fans, because the MPAA doesn't just affect what gets seen--but what gets made. If it has a flaw, it's this: In his attempt to generate transparency, Dick (Twist of Faith) arguably crosses the line. It's one thing to identify the board members; it's another to divulge their vital statistics. Whether or not these "guardians of morality" are working for the common good, they're still entitled to a little privacy. That said, this is vital stuff for anyone concerned about First Amendment issues. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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