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Academy Responds to Open Letter From Spike Lee Blasting Oscar Plan

the academy, oscars

*The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to criticism they received from a slew of notable filmmakers in an open letter slamming reports that the awards for cinematography, editing, hair and makeup, and live action short would not be broadcast live.

Hollywood icons Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Seth Rogen, Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, Ang Lee and others signed the open letter which called the Academy’s plan to handle the four categories “nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession.”

Shortly after the open letter was published, the Academy issued the following response.

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“As the Academy’s officers, we’d like to assure you that no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others,” the Academy said in a statement, per Deadline. “Unfortunately, as the result of inaccurate reporting and social media posts, there has been a chain of misinformation that has understandably upset many Academy members. We’d like to restate and explain the plans for presenting the awards, as endorsed by the Academy’s Board of Governors.”

The Academy went on to say:

“Four categories – Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live Action Short – were volunteered by their branches to have their nominees and winners announced by presenters, and included later in the broadcast. Time spent walking to the stage and off, will be edited out,” they explained. “The four winning speeches will be included in the broadcast.”

The statement continued:

In future years, four to six different categories may be selected for rotation, in collaboration with the show producers. This year’s categories will be exempted in 2020.

This change in the show was discussed and agreed to by the Board of Governors in August, with the full support of the branch executive committees. Such decisions are fully deliberated.

Our show producers have given great consideration to both Oscar tradition and our broad global audience.

We sincerely believe you will be pleased with the show, and look forward to celebrating a great year in movies with all Academy members and with the rest of the world.

The 91st Oscars will take place on Feb 24 at Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, CA. This year’s ceremony will be hostless.

You can read the open letter to the Academy below.

An Open Letter to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and The Producers of the 91st Annual Academy Awards Broadcast:

On Monday, February 11, 2019, John Bailey, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, announced that this year’s Oscar presentations for Best Cinematography — along with Film Editing, Live Action Short and Makeup and Hairstyling — will not be broadcast live, but rather presented during a commercial break. This decision was made to reduce the length of the show from four hours to three. The vocal response from our peers and the immediate backlash from industry leaders over the Academy’s decision makes it clear that it’s not too late to have this decision reversed.

The Academy was founded in 1927 to recognize and uphold excellence in the cinematic arts, inspire imagination and help connect the world through the universal medium of motion pictures. Unfortunately, we have drifted from this mission in our pursuit of presenting entertainment rather than in presenting a celebration of our art form and the people behind it.

Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91 st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession.

The show’s director, Glenn Weiss, has stated that he will determine what “emotionally resonant” moments from the four winners’ speeches will be selected to air later in the broadcast. The show will cut any additional comment from presenters, as well as any recitation of the nominees as they see fit.

Since its inception, the Academy Awards telecast has been altered over time to keep the format fresh, but never by sacrificing the integrity of the Academy’s original mission. When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the Academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form. To quote our colleague Seth Rogen, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to NOT publicly honor the people whose job it is to literally film things.”

Full list of filmmakers who signed the letter here.

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