Chris Blackwell's Palm Pictures today announced that it plans to appeal the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) "R" rating for its upcoming release about American soldiers in Iraq, Gunner Palace.
The MPAA has given the film an "R" rating based solely on "language". Co-Director Michael Tucker spent two months in Iraq living with the Army's 2/3 Field Artillery. With total access to all operations and activities, Gunner Palace reveals the inside story of 400 American soldiers (aka: "Gunners") carrying out their mission from a bombed-out pleasure palace originally built by Saddam Hussein and later home to his son Uday. In the film, soldiers are shown experiencing and responding to the war around them.
An "R" rating from the MPAA restricts access to the film to audiences under the age of 17 unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
"No doubt, there is strong language in the film, but taken in context of the subject, soldiers at war, the language is not gratuitous," said Michael Tucker. "We may not like or agree with what the soldiers say in this film. Some of us may even find their language offensive. However, their voices deserve to be heard--without restriction--in the country that sent them to war. This is a film about war and the reactions of the young people fighting in it. Those reactions are expressed through the language of the day. To restrict access to the film via an "R" rating is essentially censoring the experience of the American soldier. As Americans, one way we can support the troops, is by listening to what they have to say. To do this, to honor and respect their experience and sacrifice, we ask the MPAA to constructively work with us to bring the soldiers story to an audience that will include teens who are mature enough to see this film."
The film focuses on the soldiers' individual and personal responses to the war: Sgt. Nick Moncrief, a young squad leader with two kids and a wife, breaks into a freestyle rap in front of the palace after an attack; SPC Stuart Wilf, who joined the army at 17, spends his nights with his guitar by the palace gate; and one of the female soldiers, SPC Billie Grimes, tells of her experience as a combat medic. Told first-hand by these troops and many others, Gunner Palace presents a thought provoking portrait of a dangerous and chaotic war that is personal and highly emotional.
"We feel we have a valid and strong case for appealing the ‘R' rating," said Palm Pictures founder Chris Blackwell. "We ask that the MPAA consider the real world context in which the language is used as well as the importance of allowing those using it to be heard - unrestricted."
"In a time overwhelmed with the politicization of the war, Gunner Palace shows how it really is for soldiers," says Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq War Veteran & Executive Director of Operation Truth. "This is how soldiers feel, live, and sometimes, die. It is raw and real. Every American with a conscience should see this film. See it and think about what is going on."