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The Weinstein Co. Appealing R Rating Given to 'Bully' for Language

Bully Still Alex in Rain - H 2012
Lee Hirsch/The Weinstein Company
"Bully"

The restrictive rating will affect the very demographic the documentary was intended for: kids.

The Weinstein Co. is appealing the R rating assigned to filmmaker Lee Hirsch's documentary Bully, a frank look at America's bullying crisis in schools.

TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein will personally appear at the Feb. 23 appeals hearing in Sherman Oaks, where the Classification and Rating Administration is headquartered. He maintains that the R rating -- assigned for "some" language -- will keep Bully out of middle schools and high schools, the very locale where it needs to be seen the most.

Bully will open in select theaters on March 23.

At the hearing, Weinstein will be joined by Alex Libby, one of the bullied children whose experiences are chronicled in Hirsch's documentary.

"I made Bully for kids to see -- the bullies as well as the bullied. We have to change hearts and minds in order to stop this epidemic, which has scarred countless lives and driven many children to suicide. To capture the stark reality of bullying, we had to capture the way kids act and speak in their everyday lives -- and the fact is that kids use profanity," Hirsch said.

"It is heartbreaking that the MPAA, in adhering to a strict limit on certain words, would end up keeping this film from those who need to see it most," the director continued. "No one could make this case more powerfully than Alex Libby, and I am so proud and honored that he is stepping forward to make a personal appeal."

Weinstein said he has "great respect" for Joan Graves, chairman of CARA, and the rest of ratings board, but that he is compelled to "fight for an exception so we can change this R rating brought on by same bad language" and that, as a father of four, "I worry every day about bullying; it's a serious and ever-present concern for me and my family."

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Safe and Drug-Free Schools estimates that over 13 million kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. Filmed over the course of the 2009-10 school year, Bully reveals how the problem transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.