Barely 24 hours after independents slammed the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s ratings system at the Sundance Film Festival (Daily Variety, Jan. 28), “Extreme Justice” helmer Mark Lester argued to the appeals board that independent films often get unfair ratings because they may deal with controversial subjects.
“Extreme Justice” focuses on police brutality in the Los Angeles Police Dept. , specifically on one squad, and while the original MPAA ruling dubbed the film as too violent, Lester claims his pic was a victim of politics, and convinced the appeals board as such.
“I argued, successfully, that it was a political thing being done, that by cutting out the violence we would be destroying the story of the film, which is to show the real activities of the SIS (Special Investigation Section) in Los Angeles. It would be like showing the Rodney King footage and telling the person who made the video to cut out half the number of times that Rodney King was beaten: That would be a political act to do that.”
And while the director won, he doesn’t think the battle is over.
“This board in L.A. is so conservative that it’s driving indie films unnecessarily into NC-17 ratings. I think their definitions are wrong. They’re fighting the independent filmmaker.
“If the ratings board in New York had more control over the ratings board in L.A., or gave them some different guidelines as to what is an R-rated movie, I think they would be less flooded with appeals over NC-17. Many of these films should be rated R.”
Other films rated in MPAA’s Classification & Rating Administration’s bulletin number 1,253 from Jan. 27.
“Man Bites Dog” (Roxie Releasing; rating has been appealed).
“Body Language” (Paramount Home Video; “for violence”).
“Deadly Rivals” (Metro Film Distributors; “for violence, sexuality and language”).
“Lake Consequence” (Republic Pictures; “for strong sexuality and for language”).
“Like Water for Chocolate” (Miramax Films; “for sexuality”).
“Running Cool” (Skouras Pictures; “for language”).
“Singles: Outtakes”(short subject; Warner Bros.; “for language”).
“Free Willy” (Warner Bros.; “for some mild language”).
“Miss Rose White” (Republic Pictures; “for thematic elements”).