Busan: Cheryl Boone Isaacs Reveals Academy’s Global Mission

“Africa is the next frontier,” said Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs who is in Busan as part of the organization’s efforts to inform the world about their year-round activities outside of the Oscars. Describing Asia as being in the forefront of film growth, led by China and India, Boone Isaacs also said that Latin America is “blooming.”

Speaking to Variety, Boone Isaacs said, “Our global mission is to start a dialogue with film communities, and Busan is a big one, for them to know who we are.”

In 2014, the Academy had a record 83 submissions in the foreign language category, but that is down to 76 this year. “Every year is different,” said Boone Isaacs. “I have not analyzed which countries have or have not submitted yet, but that part is out of our hands. Next year for all we know could be a record year.”

One of the countries not to have entered the foreign-language Oscar race this year is Sri Lanka, a country that has submitted only once, “Mansion by the Lake” in 2003. The Sri Lankan film industry is small but vibrant with Vimukthi Jayasundara winning the Golden Camera at Cannes 2005 for “The Forsaken Land.” Jayasundara’s “Dark In The White Light” is a Busan selection this year, alongside “Leopard Do Not Bite,” by his compatriot Prasanna Jayakody. On the other hand, Afghanistan, a country with an equally small industry, has been submitting regularly since 2003.

“With regard to Sri Lanka, I don’t have any understanding of why they haven’t submitted films or the reason, but I do think however that they, as well as any other country in the world, should always consider us,” says Boone Isaacs. The Academy has had for years an international outreach committee comprising 25 members who visit countries throughout the year to talk to different film cultures.

The Academy made a giant stride toward calming the accusations about lack of diversity amongst its membership earlier this year with an intake of 322 including David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bong Joon-ho and Pratibha Parmar. “Our membership is full of working professionals who are working across the world and that helps with diversity issues,” says Boone Isaacs. On the age of members, she points out that the membership is a recognition of achievement and this could take time, except with actors who can be younger, because, “A great performance is a great performance.”

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