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DAILY NEWS: “L.I.E” Rating Appeal; Strike Talks Continue Despite a Deadline; Seattle Films; Mirama

DAILY NEWS: "L.I.E" Rating Appeal; Strike Talks Continue Despite a Deadline; Seattle Films; Mirama

DAILY NEWS: "L.I.E" Rating Appeal; Strike Talks Continue Despite a Deadline; Seattle Films; Miramax "People"

by Eugene Hernandez, Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE

>> “L.I.E” Loses Fight for “R”; Battle Against NC-17 and MPAA Continues

(indieWIRE/05.03.01) — Michael Cuesta‘s suburban teen drama “L.I.E.,” the
latest American independent to be tagged with an NC-17 rating, failed in its
appeal to the MPAA‘s Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) for an R rating yesterday (Wednesday). The 12-member CARA board of California
parents voted eight to four against the appeal. Jeff Lipky, co-president of
Lot 47 — the distributor set to release “L.I.E.” this fall — is a tireless
MPAA ratings opponent, who went up against the system back in 1993 over
October Films‘ release of Pedro Almodovar‘s “Kika.” (That film also did not win its appeal; it was subsequently released unrated).

“I hate to have to keep summoning up the bile that I feel every time there’s
this injustice…this offense perpetrated by America’s minister of
censorship Jack Valenti,” an “outraged” Lipsky told indieWIRE by cell phone
from Los Angeles.

CARA gave Cuesta’s directorial debut an NC-17 rating for “some explicit
sexual content,” according to a letter from the MPAA, stating that “most
American parents would consider some of the film’s sexual material patently
adult and thus out of bounds for children.”

To help raise the flag in the fight against the MPAA rating system and
admittedly to “garner press” for the film he is releasing, Lipsky sent a
“Dear Friend” letter out to the press this week, outlining his objections to
the NC-17 rating given to the film. He appealed to journalists to expose
what he writes is, “the impossibility of maintaining this, or more likely,
any rating system whose intent is daily compromised by its own actions.”

Along with the letter, Lipsky included a compilation tape of the “explicit”
scenes in question from “L.I.E,” which involve a man having sex with a woman
from behind and archival images of an old porn video that suggest — but
never explicitly show — a woman performing oral sex.

The tape also included clips from recently released R-rated films, such as
Boogie Nights,” “8mm,” “Titus” and “Braveheart,” to prove Lipsky’s point that CARA’s judgments are arbitrary, hypocritical and “out of touch with
true parental sensibilities.”

“By including examples of several gratuitously and patently offensive
moments from films released in the last 24 months,” wrote Lipsky. “We are
proving that…the cavalier insensitive, and censorial attitude Mr.
Valenti’s organization continues to impose on films of merit and import is
all-too-often as perverse as the scenes in the R-rated films included on
this tape.”

On the phone, Lipsky is less delicate: “My God! When you make the
face-to-face comparisons of other R-rated dramas, which are sheer exercises
in human degradation and butchery and place them side by side against
[“L.I.E”], you have to be non-human to suggest that this is not suitable for
some teenagers with parental supervision!”

Lipsky also indicated that under no circumstances would they cut the film
for its theatrical release, but it would be released in two versions on
video, one uncut, the other censored. “For no other reason than Blockbuster
Video will not carry unrated or NC-17 rated films,” explained Lipsky, who
admits to “butchering” another Lot 47 release, Tim Roth‘s “The War Zone” to make Blockbuster and Hollywood Video standards.

For “L.I.E.”‘s theatrical release, Lipsky told indieWIRE that the company
will decide whether to go out unrated or with the NC-17 rating. “We think
it’s an important vehicle for many teenagers to see, with parental
guidance,” he said. Either way, Lipsky says that rather than include a
warning on ads, he’d like to include a statement to parents: “‘We encourage
you to see the film and if you feel it’s an important film for your
teenagers, you should write a letter to Jack Valenti,’ then supply the MPAA
address, fax number, and phone number and deluge the MPAA.” “Do I think this
will have any impact on this motion picture?” Lipsky asked himself. “No, but
we can’t just sit idly by.” [Anthony Kaufman]


+ (08.16.99) EDITORIAL: Is the ‘A’ Rating Only a Thing of the Past?

>> Negotiations Between WGA and AMPTP Continue Beyond Deadline

(indieWIRE/05.03.01) — The negotiations between the Writers Guild of
America (WGA)
and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers
will continue today in Los Angeles. The talks ended early this
morning and will resume at 1 p.m. ET, the guild announced overnight.

The May 1st deadline has passed with negotiators at the table trying to
hammer out a deal. Current agreements remain in place while the two
sides continue talking and the imposed news blackout continues with
only occasionaly statements and very brief updates posted on the WGA
website. [Eugene Hernandez]

>> “Party” and “Sex” to Bookend 250-film, 25 Day Seattle Festival

(indieWIRE/05.03.01) — Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh‘s directorial debut, “The Anniversary Party,” will kick off the 27th Seattle International Film Festival, running May 24th through June 17th in Washington. The event will close with Alan Rudolph‘s “Investigating Sex.”

The United States premiere of “Party” features Cumming, Leigh an a
high-profile cast, including Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Gwyneth Paltrow,
Parker Posey, John C. Reilly, Jane Adams, Jennifer Beals. While Rudolph’s
“Sex” features Neve Campbell, Jeremy Davies, Dermot Mulroney, Nick Nolte,
Julie Delpy, Robin Tunney and Tuesday Weld.

Among the other notable premieres set for the 2001 installment of the
Festival are the world premieres of Tim Blake Nelson’s “O,” Campbell Scott’s
Final,” Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World,” Michael Polish’s “Jackpot,” and Fenton Bailey’s “Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The William Haines
.” Notable U.S. premieres include Mathieu Kassovitz’ “Crimson River
and Stephen Frears’ “Liam.”

More than 250 movies from 50 countries will screen during the 25 day event.
[Eugene Hernandez]

>> Miramax Makes Deal for Algrant’s “People”

(indieWIRE/05.03.01) — Miramax has confirmed its deal for the domestic
rights to Dan Algrant‘s “People I Know,” starring Al Pacino, Kim Basinger, Tea Leoni, Ryan O’Neal, and Richard Schiff. The film was written by playwright Jon Robin Baitz and executive produced by Robert Redford. It was produced by Myriad Pictures and Redford’s Southfork Pictures.

In the movie, Al Pacino, according to the announcement, “plays a veteran New
York press agent that gets drawn into the devious world of politics and
celebrity when his famous actor-client becomes involved in a scandal that
could jeopardize his ambitions of becoming a senator.” [Eugene Hernandez]

>> YESTERDAY in indieWIRE DAILY NEWS: DAILY NEWS: Strike Deadline Passes Without Agreement; Wittkowsky is Leaving Cleveland Org; “Kiss Kiss” Deal

(indieWIRE/05.02.01) — Talks continue with the WGA as the strike deadline
passes. David Wittkowsky resigned as Executive Director of the Cleveland
Film Society and Offline Releasing acquires “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”.”


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