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The Academy issues statement after Oscars broadcast controversy

A spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Monday that the awards for cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live-action short will be presented off-air.
A spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Monday that the awards for cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live-action short will be presented off-air. Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File

The film academy has issued a statement saying that all Academy Award winners will still be included in the broadcast on Feb. 24 in response to widespread backlash to the fact that four Oscars would be presented during commercials breaks at the 91st Academy Awards.

The cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live-action shorts awards will be presented during the commercial breaks this year in an effort to shorten the broadcast to three hours. Their speeches will be edited into the show.

WATCH BELOW: The 91st Academy Awards nominees 

The joint statement from the film academy’s board of governors on Wednesday criticized “inaccurate reporting” and social media posts for what they described as a “chain of misinformation” that has angered film academy members. Critics of the changes include directors Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese.

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READ MORE: Academy confirms 4 awards to be cut from broadcast

“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 statement read. “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 statement was signed by president John Bailey, vice-presidents Lois Burwell, Sid Ganis and Larry Karaszewski, Nancy Utley, treasurer Jim Gianopulos and secretary David Rubin.

It broke down how the presentation will work:

– All 24 Award categories are presented on stage in the Dolby Theatre, and included in the broadcast.

– 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.

– The four winning speeches will be included in the broadcast.

– 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.

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– 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.

READ MORE: Oscars 2019 to go without host for the first time in 30 years

It also says that the show’s 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.”

WATCH BELOW: Kevin Hart won’t be hosting Oscars, apologizes for homophobic tweets

Kevin Hart won’t be hosting Oscars, apologizes for homophobic tweets
Kevin Hart won’t be hosting Oscars, apologizes for homophobic tweets

Before the statement was released, an open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ president John Bailey had been signed by more than 40 directors and cinematographers including Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino.

“Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st 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 open letter read.

READ MORE: Spike Lee says we live in ‘a crazy, bizarre’ world following Liam Neeson’s racial comments

Russell Crowe called the decision to present the four awards during the commercial break “a fundamentally stupid decision” and too “dumb for words.”

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Cuaron, film director of Roma, took to Twitter to criticize the decision, writing, “In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without colour, without story, without actors and without music. No single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.”

“Reposting, revised: I would not presume to suggest what categories should occur during commercials on Oscars night, but, please: Cinematography & Editing are at the very heart of our craft. They are not inherited from a theatrical or literary tradition: they are cinema itself,” Guillermo del Toro tweeted.

Seth Rogen joined the conversation as well, tweeting, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people’s who’s job it is to literally film things.”

The 91st Oscars airs Sunday, Feb. 24.

Read the complete open letter to Bailey below, as per The Hollywood Reporter.

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. 

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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 91st 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.

We consider this abbreviation and potential censorship to run contrary to the spirit of the Academy’s mission.

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. 

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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.”

Signed,

Cinematographers

Dion Beebe
Bill Bennett
Roger Deakins
Peter Deming
Caleb Deschanel
Robert Elswit
Mauro Fiore
Greig Fraser
Janusz Kaminski
Ellen Kuras
Ed Lachman
Robert Legato
Emmanuel Lubezki
Anthony Dod Mantle
Seamus McGarvey
Chris Menges
Dan Mindel
Reed Morano
Rachel Morrison
Guillermo Navarro
Phedon Papamichael
Wally Pfister
Rodrigo Prieto
Robert Primes
Robert Richardson
Linus Sandgren
John Seale
Newton Thomas Sigel
Vittorio Storaro
John Toll
Hoyte van Hoytema
Kees van Oostrum
Roy Wagner

Directors

Damien Chazelle
Cary Joji Fukunaga
Spike Jonze
Ang Lee
Spike Lee
Dee Rees
Seth Rogen
Martin Scorsese
Quentin Tarantino

Filmmakers

Kym Barrett
Judy Becker
Alan Edward Bell
Erin Benach
Avril Beukes
Consolata Boyle
Maryann Brandon
Alexandra Byrne
Milena Canonero
Chris Corbould
Hank Corwin
Tom Cross
Nathan Crowley
Sophie De Rakoff
Chris Dickens
Bob Ducsay
Lou Eyrich
Dante Ferretti
Paul Franklin
Dana Glauberman
William Goldenberg
Affonso Goncalves
Adam Gough
Jon Gregory
Dorian Harris
Joanna Johnston
Paul Lambert
Mary Jo Markey
Joi McMillon
Ellen Mirojnick
Stephen Mirrione
Bob Murawski
John Ottman
Sandy Powell
Fred Raskin
Tatiana S. Riegel
Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir
Mayes Rubeo
Nat Sanders
J.D. Schwalm
Anna B. Sheppard
Terilyn A. Shropshire
Joan Sobel
Michael Tronick
Mark Ulano
Martin Walsh
David Wasco
Billy Weber
Julie Weiss
Michael Wilkinson
Hughes Winborne
Janty Yates 

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— With files from the Associated Press

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