|Lame because: This isn't the first time the rules around submissions for Best Foreign-Language Film at the Oscars have been the center of controversy. This year, yet again, some of the foreign language films that were well-reviewed by critics and beloved by film fest audiences got snubbed for a shot at Oscar gold -- and cinephiles are getting tired of seeing some of their fave films cut out of the game. Who got the big, golden shaft this year?
Ang Lee's Lust, Caution was ruled ineligible as Taiwan's official entry, because the producers didn't prove that the "creative talent of that country exercised artistic control" of the film (this, in spite of Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon winning Best Foreign in 2000 with almost the exact same crew -- wha ...? ). Israeli entry The Band's Visit was shot down for having too much English. The Kite Runner, set in Afghanistan, had production involvement from so many nationalties that Paramount Vantage didn't even bother trying to get it qualified (Afghanistan has no entry this year), and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly got shut out because each country is only allowed to submit one film, and France chose Persepolis instead. With so many good films cut of of the game, is it time for a new look at the rulebook?
How to turn it around: Telling people not to "whine" about it, as Academy director Bruce Davis did in addressing the concerns of the producers of Lust, Caution, isn't going to cut it. This controversy happens year after year, and when you have the same consistent complaints cropping up, it's maybe time to revisit your rules and consider revising them. Take a look at the issues that keep rearing their heads, and consider some changes that both protect the integrity of the award and don't shut out some of the year's best foreign films. As much as we'd like to think awards don't matter, the reality is that an Oscar nom (not to mention a win) really does help put a lesser-known foreign film on the map (and bring in the box office bucks) and get it wider play. Find a way to fix it, please.
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