The US film censors of the MPAA, have agreed to overturn the R rating on director Julian Schnabel’s Miral.
Schnabel and producer Jon Kilik had contested the ratings board’s decision that denied the film the lower PG-13. Their appeal succeeded.
I understand the MPAA is by nature a protective organization, but I felt very strongly that they didn’t need to protect teenagers from my film, said Schnabel in a statement: Quite the contrary, teenagers are the intended audience for Miral’s story. I am very happy the MPAA proved to be open minded and ultimately agreed.
Producer Jon Kilik agreed. We are happy to have the MPAA find that our film respected the guidelines of their rating system, he said. To have lost the ability to share Miral with the generation most affected by the story’s message would have been at odds with the meaning and purpose of our film.
For comparison the UK film censor rated the film 12A uncut with the advice: Contains moderate language, violence and injury detail. The BBFC explained further in their extended classification information:
Miral is a drama telling the stories of several generations of Palestinian women living through the occupation of their land since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The film was classified 12A for moderate language, violence and injury detail.
The film contains aggressive and directed uses of the words bitch and whore. This moderate language exceeds the terms of the BBFC’s PG Guidelines, where there may be mild bad language only and is therefore more appropriately classified at 12A.
The film contains several sequences of documentary footage from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict depicting violence in military action and street riots that will be familiar from television news broadcasts. There is also one dramatised street riot scene in which a teenage girl is shot and killed. There is, however, little detail in these images which give a sense of the chaos and tragedy of the situation without presenting gratuitous displays of violence. The implied strangling of a character and the beating of a young woman with a stick, as part of an interrogation procedure by security forces, are also presented with discretion and without lingering on the details of the violence being inflicted. The Guidelines at 12A/12 state that Moderate violence is allowed but should not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood, but occasional gory moments may be permitted if justified by the context. Injury detail is seen in a hospital setting with some sight of injured soldiers but this is not dwelt upon to any undue extent.
A key scene in the film involves the suggestion of a young teenage girl being sexually abused by an older male member of her family. The event dictates the path the girl’s life will take and although it is briefly distressing, the abuse is not shown with strong detail and mostly plays off the frightened reactions of the girl’s younger sister who is also in the room. The Guidelines at 12A’/’12 state that Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly and discreetly indicated, and must have a strong contextual justification.
The film also contains a discreetly implied suicide, scenes of smoking which are not glamorised to any significant extent, and milder language such as hell and shit.