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Movie Mom

Protest of MPAA Rating for New Holocaust Film

posted by Nell Minow

“A Film Unfinished” is a new Holocaust documentary featuring never-before-shown footage from the Warsaw Ghetto. The MPAA has given it an “R” rating for “disturbing images of holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity.” This means that no one under 17 can see the film without a parent or guardian and restricts its availability to educational venues. Oscilloscope, which is distributing the film, has set the appeal with the MPAA for Thursday, August 5th. If you want to comment, get in touch with:
Joan Graves
MPAA Ratings Board
Los Angeles
15301 Ventura Blvd., Building E
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(818) 995-6600 (main)
(818) 285-4403 (fax)
The film, which will be released August 18th in New York and August 20th in Los Angeles followed by a national rollout, documents an unfinished Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. (The Warsaw Ghetto, part of the Third Reich’s Final Solution, was the largest and most notorious of the unlivable urban ghettos and a last transit point before deportation to the extermination camps.) Discovered in East German archives after World War II and labeled simply “Ghetto”, the footage quickly became a resource for historians seeking an authentic record of the Warsaw Ghetto. However, the later discovery of long-missing film reel complicated earlier readings of the footage and revealed many of the shots to be staged. A FILM UNFINISHED presents the raw footage in its entirety, carefully noting fictionalized sequences (including a staged dinner party) falsely showing “the good life” enjoyed by Jewish urbanites and probes deep into the making of a now-infamous Nazi propaganda film.
A FILM UNFINISHED had its US Premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it won the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award, and has gone on to win the top award at Hot Docs Film Festival and the WGA Screenplay Award at AFI’s Silverdocs Film Festival.
Producer (and Beastie Boy) Adam Yauch says, “This is too important of a historical document to ban from classrooms. While there’s no doubt that Holocaust atrocities are displayed, if teachers feel their students are ready to understand what happened, it’s essential that young people are giving the opportunity to see this film. Why deny them the chance to learn about this critical part of our human history? I understand that the MPAA wants to protect children’s eyes from things that are too overwhelming, but they’ve really gone too far this time..”
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor says, “The further away we get from the years of Holocaust the more necessary it is that our current and future generations understand it. What a shame for today’s teenagers who study world history to be denied viewing A Film Unfinished and seeing first hand the Nazi treatment of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. It’s depiction of the lengths to which the Nazis would go to dehumanize Jews is an important teaching tool, not only for its historic content, but for its relevance to today’s world.”
As we lose those whose first-hand experience has been essential in bringing this story to the world, it is even more important to make use of the few recordings that can document what happened during the Holocaust to rebut the deniers and carry the lessons of history to future generations. It is absurd that the MPAA will allow “comic” and “action” violence in a PG-13 film, but not the sober portrayal of historical events.
Oscilloscope co-founder David Fenkel said, “This clearly needs to be rectified. The rating is inconsistent with cultural norms and the film does not use the footage in any exploitative way. The rating will tragically would hinder the exhibition of the film to those who most need to see the film: namely students.”

  • Vince

    I think the film would only be restricted to high schoool students, not college, but if a teacher wanted to show it, they could probably get away with it by having the kids’ parents sign a permission slip. It’s not the end of the world. Besides, it depends on what school you’re talking about. When I was in high school, my science teacher had us watch Outbreak (the movie about the ebola virus) and it was no big deal.

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