Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Others Condemn Oscars Broadcast Plan in Open Letter

Plan to exclude cinematographers and other nominees from live show “is nothing less than an insult,” letter says

Last Updated: February 13, 2019 @ 9:49 PM

In an open letter Wednesday night, Hollywood heavyweights including Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Damien Chazelle and Ang Lee condemned the Academy’s plan to exclude four key categories from the 2019 Oscars’ live broadcast.

“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 letter says.

“We consider this abbreviation and potential censorship to run contrary to the spirit of the Academy’s mission,” the letter continues.

Shortly after the letter was published, the Academy issued a statement defending the decision. Read it here.

On Monday, the Academy announced that in an effort to trim the length of the 2019 Oscars broadcast, the Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling categories will be presented during commercial breaks. The Academy said the awards will be inserted back into the show later in “slightly edited” form, though the original presentations will be streamed live on Oscar.com and on Academy social channels.

The decision was harshly criticized across the film industry. “We cannot quietly condone this decision without protest,” ASC president Kees van Oostrum says in a statement Tuesday.

“The Academy displayed a complete absence of the kind of creativity their awards celebrate,” IATSE president Matthew Loeb said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Those sentiments were echoed in the open letter.

“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,” it reads. “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.”

The letter continued: “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.”

The Hollywood Reporter first published the letter.

Read the full letter 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 91stAcademy 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.

To quote our colleague Seth Rogan, “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 Rogan

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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