Buzz pic rated ‘H’ — for hype

Dick's 'Not Yet Rated' stirs up controversy at Sundance

With 118 pics unspooling at Sundance, there’s nothing like courting a little controversy to create a big profile in the snow.

That’s exactly what the producers of Kirby Dick‘s doc “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” — an expose of the MPAA’s ratings criteria — did last week.

Pic, which preemed Feb. 25, arrived at Sundance as a creation for cable net IFC and was still seeking a theatrical window. Weeks before the fest, the net sent out a press release alerting the media that Dick’s pic had been slapped with an NC-17 by that secretive, uptight cabal, the MPAA.

That got loads of ink. But then again, wouldn’t it, umm, make sense that a film filled with clips of other pics that have been rated NC-17 just might get the same treatment?

Plus, pics without theatrical distribution in place that screen at festivals rarely — if ever — submit themselves to the ratings board.

“It’s a little sexier and it sounds cool,” says one veteran agent of the move by IFC to drum up controversy. “It may be a stunt, but it’s not staged. It’s taking extra steps to show buyers its content. Usually when people try to get a lot of attention, throwing stunts — like staging activity outside a screening — it backfires. This provides buyers with background and context for the film.”

To hammer the point home, the pic’s creators next accused the MPAA, during Sundance, of making an illegal copy of their film. The ratings org shot back that it was acting lawfully, and did not make a copy for distribution purposes but only because its employees are profiled onscreen.

The ploy seems to have worked: At the preem, buyers from ThinkFilm and Samuel Goldwyn, among others, were on hand, and IFC Films’ own acquisitions team is now in talks with their sister unit to release the pic itself.

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