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No ‘Place’ in Oscar race

A preliminary injunction against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, sought by the makers of Uruguay’s foreign-language film submission “A Place in the World,” was denied yesterday by federal court judge A. Andrew Hauk.

Citing the balance of irreparable injury (to plaintiffs) vs. foreseeable harm (to defendant), Hauk said in his decision that the burden of proof rested with plaintiffs.

He could “see no fraud” on the part of either side.

While Academy procedures may have been lax, the judge determined that the organization had essentially followed its rules. The plaintiffs, he said, were forthcoming in providing AMPAS with information about the film’s origins, personnel, story and other matters that should have been reviewed prior to the film’s nomination and subsequent withdrawal.

A defense motion to dismiss the case on the basis of diversity was rendered moot by the judge’s decision.

“Place” director and co-plaintiff Adolfo Aristarain said he was disappointed by the court ruling but could see no value in taking the case to appeal, given the fact that ballots are mailed to members today. He said he hopes the case might result in changes in the submission procedure and clear guidelines for the category.

“I don’t know what you do,” said Aristarain. “A point system might be in order, in which key artistic elements are weighted to determine a film’s nationality. They now appear to be guided by who has final cut. But even that is not consistent.”

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