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‘Tillman Story’ Documentary to Appeal ‘R’ Rating

Story of Tillman’s death in Afghanistan becomes second documentary in a week to appeal its rating.


Another documentary is appealing the "R" rating handed down by the Motion Picture Association of America.

One week after the Holocaust-themed doc “A Film Unfinished” lost its appeal before the MPAA’s ratings board, the makers of “The Tillman Story” have announced that they too will appeal the rating initially given to their film for “excessive language.”

The film, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, examines the death of former pro football player Pat Tillman, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. In the aftermath, his family waged a fight to force the government to admit the truth about his death – that it was caused by friendly fire, not by the enemy, and that it shouldn’t be exploited for propaganda.

The Tillman Story“Of course there is excessive language,” producer John Battsek says in a press release issued by the Weinstein Company. “This is a film that follows a truly exemplary family torn apart by the death of their loved one and the barrage of government deceit they encountered in their pursuit of the honest truth. We should be looking at this film as a way to show our younger generation the power of true family values and the sometimes unfortunate failings of our government.”

Adds Harvey Weinstein, “This is one of the most important films I’ve distributed in my career, and I want my teenage daughter, and the nation’s young adults to be able to watch Pat’s story. We need to learn from this story and limiting who can see it is not the answer.”

“A Film Unfinished” was given its "R" for “disturbing images of holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity," and lost its appeal by a vote of 12 to 3. (A two-thirds majority is required to overturn the initial rating.)

“The Tillman Story,” though, has precedent more firmly on its side. In 2004, the Iraq-set documentary “Gunner Palace” was rated "R" for the language used by American troops; the rating was reduced to a PG-13 when the appeals board – which is made up of representatives from studios and exhibition companies – agreed with director Michael Tucker’s argument that “In non-fiction film, context is everything.”

The appeal will take place Thursday at the MPAA office in Los Angeles.