Ever since the Cannes Film Festival, it has been equal doses of praise and controversy for the Palme d’Or-winning lesbian romance epic “Blue Is The Warmest Color.” A movie we’ve called one of the best of the year so far, it has seen author Julie Maroh raise concerns about the graphic sex in the film, which she equated to porn, while some of the folks who worked on Abdellatif Kechiche‘s film claim they were bullied and the production was “anarchic” and over-budget. And yet through all of that no one can doubt the quality of the movie, but despite best efforts, one of the year’s finest films won’t get a chance at winning an Oscar. Ironic.
The writing was on the wall a couple weeks back when French distributors Wild Bunch revealed that a fall release in France means it will miss the (arbitrary) date set by the rules of the Academy, which state that foreign films need to screen in their home country before September 30th. Hoping for an exception, U.S. distributor Sundance Selects made their own plea to the Academy to bend the rules, but alas, it is not to be. The random date stands, and this year’s Palme d’Or winner won’t be in the running for Best Foreign Film, which may as well now be called Best Foreign Film That Isn’t “Blue Is The Warmest Color.”
Attempts were made to open the movie in limited release in France to get the qualification for Oscar contention covered, but French distributors turned it down, choosing to prepare for their release this fall. As for Sundance Selects, they hope the Academy takes a look at their rules which don’t reflect the current movie market reality. “It’s a global business right now and to hold the Foreign Language titles to a September 30th date [is not good]. This present [Academy] administration has been really great about re-visiting things that don’t really make sense and I’m just hoping that will happen,” president Jonathan Sehring told Deadline.
The silver lining is that the film will be eligible for the Golden Globes and other awards, and Sundance Selects still plans to go hard in promoting the movie. They’ve set an October 25th release date and have submitted the movie to festivals in Telluride, Toronto and New York, and those folks will undoubtedly want to showcase the Palme d’Or winner. So no Oscar for ‘Blue,’ but the buzz and momentum will hardly be stopped.