Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

'Circumstance' Producer Pens Open Letter To PGA Condemning Their Foreign Film Rules

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire December 12, 2011 at 1:29PM

The Producer's Guild of America has deemed "Circumstance" a 'foreign language film,' making it therefore not eligible for their awards. Producer Karin Chien isn't happy. In an open letter to the media, Chien condemns the Guild for labelling her film a 'foreign film,' despite the fact that it was financed primarily in the U.S. and competed in the U.S. section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival (where it won the Audience Award). According to the PGA Rules, only English language films qualify for awards consideration. Read her letter below: Recently, a film I produced with Melissa Lee and Maryam Keshavarz, CIRCUMSTANCE, was submitted for the Producer’s Guild of America’s awards consideration. CIRCUMSTANCE is a hard film to categorize: it’s a story of teenage love and personal freedom set in Iran, filmed in Beirut, edited in Chile, finished in France, and financed primarily by U.S. sources. And the film is in Farsi. We knew we were a long shot to be nominated, but we were still excited by the prospect. Producing is often thankless and invisible work, and awards that solely recognize a producer’s contribution are few and far between. That excitement ended when I received an email from the PGA’s Director of Arbitrations & Legal Affairs on December 1. It informed us “unfortunately under the current rule structure, we are unable to accept foreign language films at this time.” I wrote back to clarify CIRCUMSTANCE is not a foreign film and received this reply: “We do accept foreign films, as long as they are in the English language. The PGA Rules state that only English language films qualify for awards consideration.” In the email was attached the regulations for 2012 Award Eligibility. Sure enough, the first paragraph stipulated “the motion picture must … be an English language production.” The rule allows foreign films to qualify, if they are in English and have a U.S. distributor. So the deciding factor in our film’s eligibility came down to the language spoken by our film’s fictitious characters. It’s possible this rule is a holdover, but from when? It was over a decade ago when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon broke the $100 million box office mark for foreign language films. Does the language of a movie mean more to the PGA than the nationality of the producers, or the movie’s primary audience? This rule also meant important independent films by important independent producers have been neglected by the PGA’s 4,000+ members. Films like SIN NOMBRE produced by Amy Kaufman, TREELESS MOUNTAIN produced by Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Ben Howe, and MARIA FULL OF GRACE produced by Paul Mezey wouldn’t qualify. Interestingly, SIN NOMBRE, MARIA FULL OF GRACE, and CIRCUMSTANCE all premiered in the U.S. section of the Sundance Film Festival, where the films won Audience and Directing Awards. Independent producers do not make films to win awards. But producers know how much a nomination, not to mention a win, can contribute to a film’s life and its audience. Awards legitimatize an indie film for an audience, and awards make a difference when Jane Moviegoer is deciding what to spend $12 watching at the theater. And award eligibility fluctuates constantly. Recently the Motion Pictures Sound Editors union changed their foreign film category to a foreign-language category, in recognition of U.S. members who create incredible sound design on foreign cinema. Globalization is no longer a buzzword. That was the 90s. Now it’s just a fact of financing, consumption, and every facet of business. For example, over 70% of the American film industry’s grosses come from foreign markets. And in L.A. County, where Hollywood and the PGA are based, 56% of households speak a language other than English. It’s time to wake up to the new world order. The PGA’s English-only stipulation is at best, an outdated, archaic rule. And at worst, it opens the PGA up to the charge of xenophobia. The PGA’s mission statement starts with “The Producers Guild of America is the non-profit trade group that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team.” PGA, whose interests do you represent? Post-script note: We sent emails a week ago questioning the English-only rule to the PGA’s Director of Arbitrations & Legal Affairs, the Chair, the Vice-Chair, the now defunct Independent Committee at the PGA, and are still awaiting a substantial response.
3
"Circumstance"
Roadside Attractions "Circumstance"

The Producer's Guild of America has deemed "Circumstance" a 'foreign language film,' making it therefore not eligible for their awards. Producer Karin Chien isn't happy.

In an open letter to the media, Chien condemns the Guild for labelling her film a 'foreign film,' despite the fact that it was financed primarily in the U.S. and competed in the U.S. section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival (where it won the Audience Award). According to the PGA Rules, only English language films qualify for awards consideration.

Read her letter below:

Recently, a film I produced with Melissa Lee and Maryam Keshavarz, CIRCUMSTANCE, was submitted for the Producer’s Guild of America’s awards consideration. CIRCUMSTANCE is a hard film to categorize: it’s a story of teenage love and personal freedom set in Iran, filmed in Beirut, edited in Chile, finished in France, and financed primarily by U.S. sources. And the film is in Farsi. We knew we were a long shot to be nominated, but we were still excited by the prospect. Producing is often thankless and invisible work, and awards that solely recognize a producer’s contribution are few and far between.

That excitement ended when I received an email from the PGA’s Director of Arbitrations & Legal Affairs on December 1. It informed us “unfortunately under the current rule structure, we are unable to accept foreign language films at this time.”

I wrote back to clarify CIRCUMSTANCE is not a foreign film and received this reply: “We do accept foreign films, as long as they are in the English language. The PGA Rules state that only English language films qualify for awards consideration.”

In the email was attached the regulations for 2012 Award Eligibility. Sure enough, the first paragraph stipulated “the motion picture must … be an English language production.” The rule allows foreign films to qualify, if they are in English and have a U.S. distributor. So the deciding factor in our film’s eligibility came down to the language spoken by our film’s fictitious characters.

It’s possible this rule is a holdover, but from when? It was over a decade ago when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon broke the $100 million box office mark for foreign language films. Does the language of a movie mean more to the PGA than the nationality of the producers, or the movie’s primary audience?

This rule also meant important independent films by important independent producers have been neglected by the PGA’s 4,000+ members. Films like SIN NOMBRE produced by Amy Kaufman, TREELESS MOUNTAIN produced by Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Ben Howe, and MARIA FULL OF GRACE produced by Paul Mezey wouldn’t qualify. Interestingly, SIN NOMBRE, MARIA FULL OF GRACE, and CIRCUMSTANCE all premiered in the U.S. section of the Sundance Film Festival, where the films won Audience and Directing Awards.

Independent producers do not make films to win awards. But producers know how much a nomination, not to mention a win, can contribute to a film’s life and its audience. Awards legitimatize an indie film for an audience, and awards make a difference when Jane Moviegoer is deciding what to spend $12 watching at the theater.

And award eligibility fluctuates constantly. Recently the Motion Pictures Sound Editors union changed their foreign film category to a foreign-language category, in recognition of U.S. members who create incredible sound design on foreign cinema. Globalization is no longer a buzzword. That was the 90s. Now it’s just a fact of financing, consumption, and every facet of business. For example, over 70% of the American film industry’s grosses come from foreign markets. And in L.A. County, where Hollywood and the PGA are based, 56% of households speak a language other than English. It’s time to wake up to the new world order.

The PGA’s English-only stipulation is at best, an outdated, archaic rule. And at worst, it opens the PGA up to the charge of xenophobia.

The PGA’s mission statement starts with “The Producers Guild of America is the non-profit trade group that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team.”

PGA, whose interests do you represent?

Post-script note: We sent emails a week ago questioning the English-only rule to the PGA’s Director of Arbitrations & Legal Affairs, the Chair, the Vice-Chair, the now defunct Independent Committee at the PGA, and are still awaiting a substantial response.

This article is related to: Producers Guild of America, Circumstance






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

Most Read



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More