By Indiewire | Indiewire June 14, 2004 at 2:0AM
Lions Gate and IFC Fighting 'R' Rating for "Fahrenheit 9/11"
by Eugene Hernandez
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which is expected to open on between 500 and 1000 screens next week, has been rated 'R' by the Motion Picture Association of America. Yesterday, the film's distributors, Lions Gate Films and IFC Films, issued a statement saying that they are appealing the decision. According to the statement from Lions Gate and IFC, the MPAA issued the rating for the film's "violent and disturbing images and for language."
"Lions Gate Films will continue to aggressively support the artistic visions of our filmmakers. The MPAA rating applied to 'Fahrenheit 9/11' is completely unjustified," said Lions Gate Films president Tom Ortenberg in a statement Sunday. "We are adamant about overturning this decision in an expeditious manner to ensure that as many people as possible, including young adults who represent the future of our nation, are able to see one of the most important and thought-provoking films of our time in theaters on June 25."
"It is sadly very possible that many fifteen and sixteen years olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years," said Michael Moore in a statement. "If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq."
"IFC has great concerns with the MPAA's decision and will do everything within its legal power to fight this unjust rating judgment," stated IFC Entertainment President Jonathan Sehring in a statement. "With a film like 'Fahrenheit 9/11', IFC is of the strong belief that all filmgoers should be empowered to make their own viewing decisions. The bottom line is this - during these times, it is crucial for the young people of this country to be fully informed. Michael Moore's voice deserves a broad audience and we are confident this ratings decision will ultimately be overturned."
The news of the appeal came on the same day that the film's distributors planned to publish an ad in the New York Times depicting Moore holding hands with U.S. President George W. Bush on the White House lawn. Described in a statement as "a very special image achieved through the magic of computers," a film PR rep said that the ad would only be run once.
In other "Fahrenheit" news, reps also confirmed last week that Alliance Atlantis has been signed as the film's Canadian distributor. The company also released "Bowling for Columbine." And late last week, organizers of the Los Angeles Film Festival announced that the film will screen at the LA Film Fest next week as part of fest 'artist in residence' Neil Young's screening sidebar.