UPDATE: The Daily Variety story was incorrect; the MPAA actually rejected a trailer for Taxi to the Darkside, and not the poster. Here's the Variety clarification: "The MPAA did not approve a theatrical trailer for Alex Gibney's documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side" that contained scenes with nudity and images that the org deemed inappropriate for all audiences. ThinkFilm has not yet officially submitted the one-sheet art referenced in a Dec. 19 story, but Daily Variety failed to indicate that it was the trailer that was rejected and not the one-sheet artwork."
ThinkFilm is prepping an appeal to the MPAA, but this one doesn't concern a film's rating. It's about a poster. The poster art for Taxi to the Dark Side -- a documentary about the pattern of torture practice that is on the short list for Academy Award consideration -- is causing a stir due to its depiction of a hooded man being led by American soldiers. The original news photo was taken by photographer Shaun Schwarz, and had been censored before -- when the military erased it from Schwarz' camera. (He later retrieved it from his hard drive.) Variety is reporting that the MPAA has officially rejected the poster, and if ThinkFilm goes forward with the marketing, they could have their "R" rating revoked. Taxi to the Dark Side is due for release on January 11th.
An MPAA spokesman says "We treat all films the same. Ads will be seen by all audiences, including children. If the advertising is not suitable for all audiences it will not be approved by the advertising administration." Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), the film's writer, producer, and director says, "Not permitting us to use an image of a hooded man that comes from a documentary photograph is censorship, pure and simple. Intentional or not, the MPAA's disapproval of the poster is a political act, undermining legitimate criticism of the Bush administration. I agree that the image is offensive; it's also real." I've got to side with Gibney on this one. This isn't horror movie imagery cooked up to sell tickets, this is really happening in the world today. And considering the explosive subject matter, I feel the poster is tastefully done. What do you guys think?