NYFF Film ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ Heads to U.S. with NC-17 Rating


A scene from Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue Is The Warmest Color.

Abdellatif Kechiche's controversial Blue Is the Warmest Color will screen uncut in U.S. theaters once it heads into regular distribution. Sundance Selects, which picked up U.S. rights to the film, which won the Palme d'Or at this year's Festival de Cannes, said it will not trim the film nor will it release the feature unrated. The film is being rated NC-17 for "explicit sexual content." Sundance Selects will release the film in theaters beginning on October 25, after its U.S. premiere at the 51st New York Film Festival.

With a screenplay by Kechiche and Ghalya Lacroix, Blue is The Warmest Color centers on a 15-year-old girl named Adèle (Exarchopoulos) who is climbing to adulthood and dreams of experiencing her first love. A handsome male classmate falls for her hard, but an unsettling erotic reverie upsets the romance before it begins. Adèle imagines that the mysterious, blue-haired girl she encountered in the street slips into her bed and possesses her with an overwhelming pleasure. That blue-haired girl is a confident older art student named Emma (Seydoux), who will soon enter Adèle's life for real, making way for an intense and complicated love story that spans a decade and is touchingly universal in its depiction.

NC-17 ratings ban people under the age of 17 from being admitted to theaters. In the past, it has also meant many major theater chains deny carrying a film with the rating in addition to restrictions on advertising by publications. The French production received a rating of "12" by the French Ministry of Culture, which indicates the film is unsuitable only for children younger than 12 years of age in that country.


Director Abdellatif Kechiche with actors Adéle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Cannes.

"This is a landmark film with two of the best female performances we have ever see on screen," said Sundance Selects/IFC Films president Jonathan Sehring. "The film is first and foremost a film about love, coming of age and passion. We refuse to compromise Kechiche's vision by trimming the film for an R rating, and we have every confidence that Blue is The Warmest Color will play in theaters around the country regardless. An NC-17 rating no longer holds the stigma it once did, and we look forward to bringing this unforgettable film to audiences nationwide. We believe this film will leave a lasting imprint as the Last Tango in Paris for a whole new generation." Sehring also added: "We have intimate knowledge of how the MPAA works, and it is unquestionable that changes must be made. That the board finds violence acceptable for young viewers while condemning sex is egregious."

In Cannes the jury, lead this year by Steven Spielberg, took the rare step of presenting the award to Kechiche along with the standout actresses Adéle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. Spielberg called the film, "a great love story that made all of us feel privileged to be a fly on the wall, to see this story of deep love and deep heartbreak evolve from the beginning. We didn't think about how it was going to play, we just were really happy that someone had the courage to tell this story the way he did...The issue of gay marriage is one that many brave states in America are resolving in a way that suits all of us that are in favor of gay marriage. But I think actually this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message."

The Film Society of Lincoln Center's Eugene Hernandez noted about the film in Cannes: "Screening during the second week of Cannes, Blue immediately energized the festival and dominated the conversation leading right into awards day."

The Main Slate of the New York Film Festival was announced Monday. General Public tickets will go on sale September 8 after a Member pre-sale period. Become a Member by Tuesday to take advantage of this and other great benefits. To find out more click here.

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