Lee Hirsch BullyBully director Lee Hirsch said today that the media frenzy over the MPAA giving his school-bullying film an R rating has helped the Weinstein Co documentary gain exposure and made the movie more important. “It’s given youth a sense of ownership over it and raised our profile,” Hirsch told Deadline today. It’s been another busy news cycle for the doc: A petition started by Michigan student Katy Butler featuring 200,000 signatures demanding the MPAA change its rating to PG-13 was delivered to the LA offices of the organization, which responded by defending its original decision to rate the film R on the basis of excessive foul language. “The R rating and description of ‘some language’ for Bully does not mean that children cannot see the film,” Classification and Rating Administration chair Joan Graves said. “As with any movie, parents will decide if they want their children to see Bully.”

Hirsch said the filmmakers had started their own petition, which received several thousand signatures, but were shocked by Butler’s much bigger success. “It really is a miracle and a dream come true,” the director said of Butler’s efforts. “It’s much bigger than the ratings battle. I can tell you straight up though, we couldn’t have dreamed this up.” (more…)