Film Festival Today

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Oscar Outcry

Written by: FFT Webmaster | November 3rd, 2011

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which monitors the rules for submission for the Oscars, has ruled to exclude movies made in Puerto Rico from competing in the category of Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Declaring that since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and therefore part of the U.S., making it ineligible. So far, 65 films have been submitted by as many countries for Oscar consideration in the category. Such predominantly English speaking countries as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have routinely submitted films produced in their country but not in the English language for consideration (for example, French Canadian films are eligible, as are films from Scotland and Wales, as well as films in native Australian and New Zealand aborigine dialects).

The decision has triggered a protest by some of the film industry’s leading Latino talents. An online petition on has the support of actors such as Benicio del Toro and Edward James Olmos and a host of Latino organizations. The controversy arose when the Spanish-language Puerto Rican film AMERICA, based on the novel AMERICA’S DREAM by Esmeralda Santiago, was not allowed to be considered as a possible nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 2012 Oscars. The film tells the story of a woman who struggles to free herself from her abusive husband. The policy is a change, since in the past Puerto Rico has been eligible to submit films for consideration. In fact, in 1990, one of them, WHAT HAPPENED TO SANTIAGO, directed by Jacobo Morales, made the cut to the final 5 nominated films to compete for the coveted award (losing that year to Italy’s CINEMA PARADISO). The exclusion further illuminates the contradictions of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States, where its residents have been American citizens since 1917 but are not allowed to vote for the U.S. President.

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