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'Blue Is the Warmest Color,' Palme d'Or-Winning Lesbian Love Story, Gets NC-17 Rating

Blue is the Warmest Color Still - H 2013
"Blue Is the Warmest Color"

Sundance Selects says it will release the film with the adults-only rating beginning in October.

Blue Is the Warmest Color, the lesbian love story that won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, has been rated NC-17 by the MPAA’s Classification & Ratings Administration. Rather than contest the rating, cut the film or release it without a rating, distributor Sundance Selects announced Tuesday that it will release the film beginning on Oct. 25 with the restrictive NC-17 rating.

The adults-only rating means that no one aged 17 and under will be admitted to the film. Blue received the rating for “explicit sexual content.”

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Since Sundance Selects, a sister label to IFC Films, owned and operated by AMC Networks, is not a studio subsidiary, it is free to release movies without a rating if it chooses, although some theaters decline to exhibit unrated films.

"This is a landmark film with two of the best female performances we have ever seen on screen. The film is, first and foremost, a film about love, coming of age and passion. We refuse to compromise Kechiche's vision by trimming the film for an R rating, and we have every confidence that Blue Is the Warmest Color will play in theaters around the country regardless,” said Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films. “An NC-17 rating no longer holds the stigma it once did, and we look forward to bringing this unforgettable film to audiences nationwide. We believe this film will leave a lasting imprint, as did The Last Tango in Paris, for a whole new generation."

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Officials at both the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners have long argued that there is a place for the adults-only NC-17 rating, although the major studios have generally avoided releasing films with the rating.

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche from a screenplay he wrote with Ghalia Lacroix, the French-language film stars Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos, and was produced by Alcatraz Films, Quat'Sous Films and Wild Bunch. The film centers on a 15-year-old girl, played by Exarchopoulos, who falls for an older art student.

In France, the film received a rating of "12" by the French Ministry of Culture, indicating the film is unsuitable for children younger than 12 years of age.