R rating sticks for ‘A Film Unfinished’

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Israeli director Yael Hersonski fought long and hard to bring the Warsaw Ghetto documentary “A Film Unfinished” to the screen, but she couldn’t beat Hollywood’s rating board.

Last week the Motion Picture Association of America upheld a previous decision of an R rating for the film because of “disturbing images of Holocaust atrocities, including graphic nudity,” the latter in a Nazi-coerced scene of young women in a mikveh.

The rating, which prevents anyone under 17 from watching the film unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, will not block the commercial screening of the film in theaters scheduled for later this month.

However, the designation will prevent the film from being shown in high school classes as an educational tool, to the disappointment of its creators and backers.

“In a world where young people are bombarded with meaningless entertainment, it’s unfortunate that a film with real educational and historic value would be denied to them by an organization that is supposed to be working to help them,” said Adam Yauch, head of the film’s distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories and a former Beastie Boy.

Hersonski said, “I realize that this may be a difficult film to watch, but I wish I had had the chance to see such a film when I was a teenager. I think high school teachers should have the opportunity to decide whether or not to use it in their classes.”

The MPAA appeals board voted 12-3 to uphold the R rating, despite fervent pleas by Hersonski and a letter from Warsaw Ghetto survivor Hana Avrutzky.

Further arguments that the 1998 film “The Last Days,” produced by Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg and showing mass executions and extensive nudity, received a PG-13 rating did not sway the board’s decision. 

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