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Film Critics Groups Disqualify Disney Movies From Awards Eligibility in Response to LA Times Blacklist

LAFCA, NYFCC, NSFC, and BSFC released a joint statement announcing the ban.

UNLIKELY DUET -- In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal) on a life-changing journey through the Land of the Dead. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“Coco”

Pixar

Updated: The Toronto Film Critics Association has also joined the protest and will not consider Disney films for its year-end awards unless they lift their LAT ban before their annual vote.

In response to Disney blacklisting the Los Angeles Times, four different critics’ organizations — the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics — have disqualified Disney-released movies from awards consideration.

In September, the Los Angeles Times wrote a three-part story detailing Disney’s business relationship with the city of Anaheim, where Disneyland is located; as a result, the paper was denied entry to press screenings of “Thor: Ragnarok” and other upcoming films. Several critics and outlets — including the AV Club, Flavorwire, and the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg — have said they won’t attend press screenings for Disney movies.

The official statement was issued by LAFCA President Claudia Puig, NYFCC Chair (and IndieWire Deputy Editor and Chief Critic) Eric Kohn, NSFC Executive Director Liz Weis, and BSFC President Tom Meek. The statement reads as follows:

The members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics jointly denounce the Walt Disney Company’s media blackout of the Los Angeles Times. Furthermore, all four critics’ organizations have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.

On Nov. 3, The Times published a statement that its writers and editors had been blocked from attending advance screenings of Disney films, in response to The Times’ news coverage of Disney’s business arrangements with the City of Anaheim. Disney’s actions, which include an indefinite ban on any interaction with The Times, are antithetical to the principles of a free press and set a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility toward journalists.

It is admittedly extraordinary for a critics’ group, let alone four critics’ groups, to take any action that might penalize film artists for decisions beyond their control. But Disney brought forth this action when it chose to punish The Times’ journalists rather than express its disagreement with a business story via ongoing public discussion. Disney’s response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included.

The New York Film Critics Circle will vote on its annual awards Thursday, Nov. 30; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will vote Sunday, Dec. 3; the Boston Society of Film Critics will vote Sunday, Dec. 10; and the National Society of Film Critics will vote Saturday, Jan. 6.

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