Acad Rebounds After ‘Hoop’ Airball

“Hoop Dreams,” which won critical raves and a Golden Globe as best documentary, missed its shot at the Academy.

Many expected the picture to be a shoo-in for a best documentary Oscar nomination, but the AMPAS nominating committee overlooked the high-profile pic, which has earned some $4 million at the box office to date.

Consequently, AMPAS came under fire from several critics for the “Hoop” “oversight.” And in the wake of an onslaught of criticism, AMPAS officials agreed to review the matter.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said Feb. 15 that it will re-examine its docu nominating process.

But the decision came too late to help “Hoop Dreams,” according to the film’s distributor, Fine Line Features.

“Obviously no intelligent discussion on this subject can occur until people have seen the five nominees, which by all reports are outstanding films,” AMPAS president Arthur Hiller said in a prepared statement. “I’ll certainly be looking at them with interest, and I’ve asked my fellow governors to try to see them as well. At the same time, we’ll be taking a close, hard look at the procedures of the documentary committee to see if changes need to be made.”

Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy, said Hiller made the statement because he hadn’t seen any of the feature documentaries that were nominated. The nominees are: “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision,” “Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter,” “D-Day Remembered,” “Freedom on My Mind” and “A Great Day in Harlem.”

“Arthur doesn’t think many others in the Academy have seen the movies yet either,” Davis said. “So he’s clearly intent on looking into this.”

“Thanks but no thanks,” said Liz Manne, senior VP of marketing at Fine Line Features, which is distributing “Hoop Dreams.” “The Academy has admitted they have made a mistake but they are unwilling to correct their mistake this year.

“‘Hoop Dreams’ is the most critically acclaimed documentary in a long time, but the Academy feels there are five better documentaries this year – it’s just absurd,” Manne said.

“Clearly, there is something wrong with the selection process, yet the Academy has no intention of changing the nominations. What would make us happy is for them to make their review of the nominations retroactive and redo their selections in the category.”

The “Hoop Dream” filmmakers said Feb. 16 that they applaud Hiller’s decision to review the nomination process in the documentary category.

“While we are flattered by how much support there is in the media for ‘Hoop Dreams’ in the wake of the Oscar nominations, we believe the frequent controversy over the Academy’s documentary nominating process in recent years has done a disservice to films nominated and films not nominated alike,” according to a statement from Kartemquin Educational Films.

“Hoop Dreams” follows two Chicago high school stars who pursue the dream of becoming professional basketball players. Nominated doe “Maya Lin” was made by Freida Lee Mock, previously the chairwoman of the documentary committee, though she didn’t participate in the nominating vote.

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