Sundance is in full swing but the big news today came out of LA, where Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson, with the support of the Board of Governors, unveiled radical changes in the makeup of the Academy in order to increase the amount of women and people of color in the membership.
THIS IS HUGE.
The Academy has been held up to ridicule in recent years by the LA Times analysis which showed its six thousand plus members were 93% white, 80% male with an average age of 63. There was also the issue of people who had not been active in the business for a long time continuing to vote.
Also, only four women have been nominated for best director in all the years of the Academy Awards and only one has won. And a woman has never even been nominated for best cinematographer.
The Oscar writers/bloggers like to talk about an “Oscar film” and what that has always meant has been a story by and about a white man. That’s because the people who were voting for the Oscars were mostly white men, “the steak eaters” as Anne Thompson likes to say. But now, if people people will not be able to vote after not being active for 10 years, things will change. Hopefully this will also deal with the comment that I hear frequently about women’s films and subjects just not being “good enough.” Good enough to whom?
There are so many movies to watch come Oscar time. The challenge is about getting your movie to the top of the pile and into the DVD machine. This change will hopefully mean that different kinds of films will get to the top of the pile and in the machine and get a noticed.
As Cheryl Boone Isaacs said, the Academy is going to lead on this issue and that is a very important statement. They need to lead. They need to set an example. The Academy stepping up is going to change the whole Oscar race. Hopefully it will also shake up all the campaigning that goes on which has become ridiculous and very expensive.
Here’s the full release with the proposed changes.