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10th of December 2018

Movies



PG-Uh Oh: In Rare Move, M.P.A.A. May Sanction Lars von Trier Film

In a highly unusual move, the Motion Picture Association of America has found a one-night screening of a controversial new Lars von Trier film, “The House That Jack Built,” to be in violation of M.P.A.A. rules, and will hold a hearing within 10 business days to decide whether to impose sanctions on IFC Films, its distributor.

The violation was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.

The movie, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May and tracks a serial killer’s gruesome rampage for more than a decade, was already the subject of denunciations for its depictions of sexual violence. There were walkouts at the Cannes screening. Von Trier, the Danish director with a long history of controversy and provocative work, was banned from Cannes in 2011 for commenting that he was a Nazi while promoting his film “Melancholia.” “The House That Jack Built” was his first time back at the festival since then.

An R-rated version of the film, which stars Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman and Bruno Ganz, is slated to open Dec. 14. However, IFC Films and von Trier decided to go an unorthodox route, perhaps in response to the bad press after Cannes: to hold an unrated screening in several cities across the United States on Wednesday night featuring a longer, director’s cut version of the movie. Usually, director’s cuts are released well after the final version of a film has already been in circulation.

“The M.P.A.A. has communicated to the distributor, IFC Films, that the screening of an unrated version of the film in such close proximity to the release of the rated version — without obtaining a waiver — is in violation of the rating system’s rules,” the M.P.A.A. said in a statement. “The effectiveness of the M.P.A.A. ratings depends on our ability to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents. That’s why the rules clearly outline the proper use of the ratings. Failure to comply with the rules can create confusion among parents and undermine the rating system — and may result in the imposition of sanctions against the film’s submitter.”

On Friday, IFC Films released a statement saying that it had not yet received written notice about sanctions and that “we do not believe that the one-day screening of the director’s cut unrated version has violated the M.P.A.A.’s Classification and Rating Rules.”

If the hearings end in sanctions, “The House That Jack Built” could have its R rating revoked, something the M.P.A.A. has done four times before. In addition, sanctions could mean a delay in rating future IFC Films and suspension of IFC’s participation in the ratings system for up to 90 days.

In a worst-case scenario, some theaters that planned on running the film could decide to pull it because it is unrated.

A representative for the movie referred comment to IFC Films, which did not respond.

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