Acad inks Cates, unveils foreign-language entries

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences listed its 35 entries for best foreign-language film Monday, confirmed that Gil Cates will return as producer of the show and settled a lawsuit with CBS Inc. over the use of old Academy Awards footage during studio-orchestrated publicity campaigns involving Sharon Stone and Denzel Washington on “CBS This Morning.”

In other words, Hollywood’s most important marketing event of the year has begun to take shape, paving the way for the 66th annual Academy Awards ceremony on March 21 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Among the foreign films submitted were several that have already been snapped up by North American distributors, including France’s “Germinal” (Sony Pictures Classics), Hong Kong’s “Farewell My Concubine” (Miramax Films), Mexico’s “Cronos” (October Films), Spain’s “Belle Epoque” (SPC), Sweden’s “The Slingshot” (SPC), Taiwan’s “The Wedding Banquet” (SamuelGoldwyn Co.) and Vietnam’s “Scent of the Green Papaya” (First Look Films).

The list of entries also featured legendary director Akira Kurosawa’s “Madadayo” from Japan and, an oddity in the foreign-language arena, an entry from the United Kingdom — director Paul Turner’s Welsh-language pic “Hedd Wyn.”

“Hedd Wyn” marks the second time the U.K. has entered a film in the foreign-language film category, following its 1991 entry of the Anthony Andrews starrer “Lost in Siberia.”

Entries from 35 nations fall two shy of the record 37 in 1989.

First-time entries came from Slovakia (director Martin Sulik’s “Everything I Like”), Slovenia (director Franci Slak’s “When I Close My Eyes”) and Vietnam (director Tran Anh Hung’s “Scent of the Green Papaya”).

Absent from the foreign-language film list were several pix that have fared well in domestic theatrical distribution during the year, but did not meet the Acad’s stringent guidelines governing the category. Among those pix are “Un Coeur en Hiver,””Olivier, Olivier” and “Jamon, Jamon.”

Also, the Academy’s stringent guidelines for entries proved fatal to the Polish/French production “Blue,” which did not qualify in the foreign-language category. The disqualification of the movie sparked controversy earlier in foreign arenas.

In an expected move, Cates, dean of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television, has been inked for his fifth consecutive year as producer of the Oscarcast.

AMPAS president Arthur Hiller said in a statement that the “Oscarcast’s ratings, which have gone up each year Cates has produced the show, certainly indicate that the public appreciates his work as much as we at the Academy do.”

Changed stance

Earlier, Cates had said that he would not produce the show if Billy Crystal wasn’t host for the Academy Awards. But he said he changed his stance when Hiller asked him to produce the 1994 version regardless of whether Crystal agreed to another appearance. “If I knew who the host was right now, I would tell you,” Cates said.

In reaching its settlement with CBS, AMPAS has agreed to drop its claim alleging the network’s use of footage featuring Stone and Washington violated copyright laws because it was not used in hard-news reporting. The out-of-court settlement reportedly included a $ 10,000 donation by the web to the Academy’s endowment fund for the Center for Motion Picture Study.

Academy executive director Bruce Davis said, “We have sensitized the producers of ‘CBS This Morning’ to the boundaries of the fair-use doctrine.” He said the Acad was confident the web would not break the rules again.

“We’ve historically been quite generous with all TV news outlets in terms of re-use of the Academy Award footage a week following the show or occasionally for obituary purposes,” he said. “But what I think we’ve re-emphasized here is that programs can’t simply use the Academy Awards as a convenient library of star footage for whatever purposes.”