You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscars Support the Press During ‘The Empty Chair’ Performance

Both in tribute to the lost journalist and in demonstration of the power of music, Sting took to the Oscar stage to perform the best song nominee “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story.”

At the end of his touching solo performance, a shot of Foley was projected on the stage with his quote, “If I don’t have the moral courage to challenge authority … we don’t have journalism.”

The quote was especially timely given that President Trump just banned several news outlets, including CNN and the New York Times, from White House briefings.

The film tells the story of journalist and war correspondent James “Jim” Foley, who was captured first by pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya before ISIS kidnapped him in 2012. The first imprisonment lasted 44 days, while the latter ended tragically after two years in captivity.

Foley was beheaded by ISIS militants in August 2014, who also released a video showing the crime and a message to then-President Barack Obama.

For the song, composer J. Ralph approached Sting to write, thinking his sensitivity and calming voice would be a perfect companion to the theme he had composed. Together, they performed the song for Foley’s family, friends, and fellow prisoners (all of whom were interviewed for the film) at Sundance. Sting re-recorded the song in a different key for his latest album, “57th & 9th.”

Ralph, a celebrated documentary composer, has been nominated in the best song category three times now; he was previously nominated for 2012’s “Chasing Ice” and 2015’s “Racing Extinction.”

“I’ve focused a lot on social documentaries, things about the war or the environment or species extinction or medical issues,” composer J. Ralph previously told Variety. “One of the ways to help people relate to these issues is with a song. A song can help create a bigger connection in a way that facts and figures and talking heads can’t do.”

“It’s probably harder to write a song for a documentary than a blockbuster,” Sting added. “The parameters are much more defined. If you’re writing a song for [a fiction feature], they want a top-40 hit, you don’t necessarily have to do much with the plot, it’s just a vibe. Writing for a documentary demands a lot more thought and effort.”

More Film

  • First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring

    First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring ‘Captain America’s’ Sebastian Stan

    The first-look image from Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ “Monday,” starring Sebastian Stan – best known for “I, Tonya” and the “Captain America” movies – and “Colette’s” Denise Gough, has been released. Protagonist Pictures will launch international sales on the pic in Berlin. “Monday” follows the story of Mickey (Stan) and Chloe (Gough), two Americans in [...]

  • The Wedding

    Film Review: 'The Wedding'

    Two considerations need to exist side by side when discussing “The Wedding,” the debut feature of Egyptian-American multihyphenate Sam Abbas. One involves the film itself, a dull slice of Lower Manhattan mumblecore about a heterosexual New York couple fitfully planning their wedding until she discovers his gay dalliance. The other, getting the lion’s share of [...]

  • The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Whether you know a film buff who needs to upgrade their collection, or you just want to upgrade your movie nights at home, here are eight gifts that will cast your favorite flicks in a whole new light. 1. Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema: The Criterion Collection Thirty-nine films from the legendary Swedish filmmaker are collected in [...]

  • Ansel Elgort The Great High School

    Film News Roundup: Ansel Elgort to Star in 'The Great High School Imposter'

    In today’s film news roundup, Ansel Elgort is going to high school, “Rockaway” gets a release, and “Suspiria” producer Bradley Fischer is honored. CASTING Ansel Elgort has come aboard to star in the drama “The Great High School Imposter” for Participant Media and Condé Nast Entertainment. The project is based on a Daniel Riley GQ [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Oscars: Film Academy Narrows the List of Contenders in Nine Categories

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced shortlists of semi-finalists in nine separate categories. From here, the organization’s separate respective branches will vote to determine nominees, which will be announced along with all other Oscar categories next month. This year marks the first year since 1979 that shortlists have been revealed in [...]

  • Watch Skylar Grey Reenact 'Aquaman' Kiss

    Watch Skylar Grey Reenact 'Aquaman' Kiss Scene With Fiance

    The melody from “Everything I Need,” the song Skylar Grey penned for “Aquaman” is used in the scene — spoiler alert — in which the titular hero (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) kiss while an epic battle rages on around them. Grey and her fiance Elliott Taylor reenacted the kiss in a somewhat similar [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content