Industry outrage grows over Academy Oscar plan

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Industry opposition to the US Academy’s plan to present four Oscars during commercial breaks in this year’s Academy Awards telecast appears to be growing fast. 

On Thursday (Feb 14), industry notables including Alfonso Cuaron, Christopher Nolan, George Clooney, Kate Winslet, Robert De Niro and David Heyman added their names to the list of signatories to an open letter protesting the plan, which would affect the Oscar presentations in the cinematography, film editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling categories. 

At least two trade organisations, meanwhile, released statements opposing the Academy plan. 

The growing opposition came in spite of an Academy statement issued late on Wednesday in response to the initial outrage that greeted news of the plan. 

Dozens of names have been added to the list of nearly 100 signatories of the open letter since it first appeared on Wednesday. 

Cinematographers adding their names included Thomas Ackerman, Oliver Hirschbiegel, Michael McDonough, Eric Saarinen and Alik Sakharov. 

Directors joining the list included Darren Aronofsky, Jacques Audiard, George Clooney, Joel Coen, Sofia Coppola, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, Nicole Holofcener, Yorgos Lanthimos, Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan, Pawel Pawlikoski, Denis Villeneuve and Wim Wenders.

Actors Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt and Kate Winslet also signed up, along with filmmakers David Heyman, Sandy Powell and Hans Zimmer.  

International Cinematographers Guild president Steven Poster released a statement calling the Academy’s decision “extremely disheartening.” Poster said he had been assured by Academy president John Bailey that all nominees “would be ‘noted’ during the broadcast. It’s not the same. This is a collaborative process, and this change appears to elevate certain crafts above others. People wait their entire lives to receive an Oscar in front of millions, and it is humiliating to have that moment reduced to an afterthought.” 

A statement from American Cinema Editors president Stephen Rivkin said: “Although we understand the tremendous pressure put on the Academy by the ABC Network [US broadcaster of the Oscar ceremony] to shorten the show to three hours, we cannot agree with any idea that diminishes the effort for which we have fought so hard: to promote and recognize film editing as the key creative position that it holds in the process of making a film.”

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