Bullfrog Films v. Wick – The First Amendment – CCR Docket 1985-1986

The CCR represents a number of filmmakers whose movies have been denied “certificates of educational character” by the United States Information Agency (USIA), the agency headed by Reagan appointee Charles Z. Wick.

The certifi­cates are granted pursuant to an international treaty signed by the U.S; this facilitates the free flow of educational, scien­tific and cultural audio-visual materials between nations. A film which receives a certificate of educational character will be admitted to other participating countries free from the import taxes which would  hinder distribution of the film abroad.

Under Wick, the US IA has used the certificate granting process in a politically biased manner to prevent certain films from being seen abroad. Tho se films which contain a mes­sage critical of U.S. policie and prac tices, particularly on the topics of nuclear war, environmental problems, and Central Amer ic a, have been denie d certificates of educational charac­ter. Industry-sponsored films, covering such subj ects as acid rain and radiation, have been approved.

With the threat of a lawsuit on the horizon, the USIA granted certificates to a number of films made by the CCR ‘s clients. These include Soldier Girls, Radiation: Impact on Life, Secret Agent, and The Last Resort.

Other films continue to be denied certificates, including: In Our Own Backyards: Uranium Mining in the U.S., Up From the Ashes: Nicaragua Today, Ecocide: A Strategy of War, and Peace: A Conscious Choice. The CCR will be filing suit on behalf of the makers of these and other films in federal court in the fall of 1985.

Sarah Wunsch, Margaret Ratner, Michael Ratner