Oscars Grapple With Banksy Problem

AMPAS asks “Exit Through the Gift Shop” producers to keep guys in disguise off the stage

Out of this year's roughly 200 Oscar nominees, the Academy is hoping that all but one of them show up at the Kodak Theater on February 27.

BanksyThe problematic nominee is Banksy, the elusive graffiti artist nominated for directing the documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Banksy doesn't show his face in public, appeared hooded and in silhouette in the movie, and didn't even admit to being the film's director until months after its release.

Before his film made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, he left several pieces of street art around Park City, but did not make any appearances during the festival.

For an organization that prides itself on security and decorum, there's something unsettling about the thought of an Oscar winner taking the stage in disguise, or trying to accept the award without revealing his identity.

"The fun but disquieting scenario," said the Academy's executive director, Bruce Davis, on Monday, "is if that film wins and five guys in monkey masks come to the stage all saying, 'I'm Banksy!' Who the hell do we give it to?"

(Davis was apparently referencing a newspaper article, which has since been disputed, claiming that Banksy sometimes wore a monkey mask in public. A promotional still from the film, above, depicts Banksy sitting next to such a mask.)

At the annual nominees luncheon, which of course Banksy did not attend, Davis told TheWrap that the Academy "needs to have a procedure in place," and is working to figure out what that procedure might be. "That's the fun part of this job," he said. "There's always some crazy-ass wrinkle you never thought of before."

Banksy monkeyAs the luncheon wound down, Davis and Academy president Tom Sherak huddled at a table with Jaimie D'Cruz, the producer of "Exit Through the Gift Shop," who is also nominated for the award, and with an executive producer. And on Tuesday afternoon, Sherak told TheWrap that he thought they'd come to an agreement on what might happen if "Exit" wins – a scenario, he hopes, that involves neither Banksy nor anybody claiming to be him.

"The reason we had that conversation," Sherak said, "was that we had to make sure we were all comfortable with what would happen if he was to win, knowing that he doesn't want anybody to know who he is."

If Banksy isn't comfortable showing his face on the Kodak stage, Sherak said, then the Academy isn't comfortable having him on that stage.

"We suggested to them that it might be a good idea that if he did win, one of them would accept in his place – that it would not be dignified for the Academy to have somebody come up wearing a monkey's head."

The Academy and D'Cruz essentially came to an agreement, Sherak said, that if "Exit" wins, D'Cruz will accept for himself and Banksy, without any additional shenanigans.

But Banksy will receive his Oscar – because, Sherak confirmed, he has signed and returned the form required of all nominees promising that he will not sell or transfer ownership in the statuette.

"We have a signed form," said Sherak, "and they were able to give us affidavits and enough legal stuff to make us feel comfortable that it really was he who signed it."

Added Sherak of Banksy's camp, "They were great. They understood that we we're trying to be a kinder, gentler place, and they made us comfortable with it. If he wins, I think that Jaimie will come up and get it."

Case closed? Sure.

I mean, the Academy can trust Banksy … right?