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Rating for ‘Miral’ goes from R to PG-13

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The kids can see ‘Miral’ after all.

Julian Schnabel’s historical piece about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has had its rating downgraded from an R to a PG-13 after an appeal from distributor the Weinstein Co.

A person familiar with the appeal who was not authorized to speak about it said the debate turned on an early moment in the film when a middle-aged man assaults a young girl at her home; the assault is strongly implied but occurs out of the frame of the movie. It’s a dramatically important scene, setting in motion a critical chain of events for one of the main characters.

In announcing the decision Thursday afternoon, the Motion Picture Assn. of America said that the movie would now be given the PG-13 for “thematic material, and some violent content including a sexual assault.”

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, who grew up in the orphanage,'Miral’ is not expected to cater to a teenage audience, though the ratings decision does remove the stigma that can come with an R.

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Schnabel, however, said that he thought young people would see and respond to the movie. ‘Teenagers are the intended audience for Miral’s story,’ he said in a statement. ‘I am very happy the MPAA proved to be open minded and ultimately agreed.”

Schnabel’s movie, his first since he was nominated for an Oscar for ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,’ concerns the journey of a Palestinian woman who runs an orphanage in Jerusalem’s Old City as well as the lives of some of her wards, including the title character (played at one stage of her life by Freida Pinto). The movie, which premiered at the Venice and Toronto films festivals to mixed reviews, opens commercially on March 25.

The overturn marks the second time Harvey Weinstein has won in front of the MPAA appeals board in recent months. In December, he succeeded in getting the board to give the romantic drama ‘Blue Valentine’ an R instead of an NC-17.

It’s the group’s first overturn of the new year; earlier, David Schwimmer’s ‘Trust’ saw its R upheld on appeal. The appeals board comprises industry members and other Hollywood professionals, a different group than the parent-centric body that hands out the initial ratings.

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

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