The International Cinematographers Guild has joined the growing chorus of boos over the Film Academy’s decision to shorten the Oscar telecast by presenting the awards for four categories – including the one for Best Cinematography – during commercial breaks. The winners’ acceptance speeches will be taped and aired later in the broadcast, but examples of their work will not be shown during the show.
“This decision is extremely disheartening,” said Steven Poster, president of IATSE Cinematographers Guild Local 600. “I immediately reached out to Academy president John Bailey, a member of our own guild, who assured me that all of the nominees would be ‘noted’ during the broadcast. It’s not the same. This is a collaborative process and this change appears to elevate certain crafts above others. People wait their entire lives to receive an Oscar in front of millions and it is humiliating to have that moment reduced to an afterthought.”
Nearly 100 high-profile cinematographers and directors, including Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino, signed an open letter to the Academy on Wednesday expressing reservations about the decision to move four awards to commercial breaks. Those categories also include film editing, makeup and hairstylisting and live-action shorts Signatories to the letter also include Alfonso Cuaron, George Clooney and Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, Guillermo del Toro, Kerry Washington and Alejandro G. Iñárritu, with many more having added their names today.
After the announcement was made that the change would be made to help bring the Oscar telecast in under three hours, the American Society of Cinematographers weighed in, with its president Kees van Oostrum saying, “After receiving many comments on this matter from ASC members, I think I speak for many of them in declaring this a most unfortunate decision.” IATSE president Matt Loeb also issued a “demand that the Academy reverse course and treat all categories with the respect they deserve.” He also called the move “an insult to the hardworking women and men of all below-the-line crafts.”
Poster also quoted from Loeb’s statement on the matter, repeating that “these below-the-line crafts including cinematographers, editors and hair and makeup stylists, are the very core of movie-making.”
The Academy responded Wednesday with a statement addressing its concerns. “As the Academy’s officers, we’d like to assure you that no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others. Unfortunately, as the result of inaccurate reporting and social media posts, there has been a chain of misinformation that has understandably upset many Academy members. We’d like to restate and explain the plans for presenting the awards, as endorsed by the Academy’s Board of Governors.