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Cinematographers Hopeful That Academy Will Reverse Oscarcast Exclusions

Cinematographers who are opposing the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations on the telecast have said a “productive” Thursday night meeting with Academy brass may lead to a reversal of the exclusions.

American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum said in a letter to members Friday that he expects a decision by the end of the day. The gathering included Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and Academy president John Bailey.

“Last night, a group of our concerned members — myself, Hoyte van Hoytema, Rachel Morrison and Emmanuel Lubezki — had a very productive and positive meeting with Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy, with John Bailey present,” van Oostrum said. “Today they will let us know if the Academy will (hopefully) reverse its decision in regards to the Awards program.”

The controversy exploded when AMPAS announced Monday that the portions of the awards for four categories — cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live action short – would be presented during commercial breaks and presented later in the live on-air broadcast in edited form. The reason for cutting parts of those presentations is to keep the telecast from going over three hours.

The AMPAS decision prompted a group of American Society of Cinematographers members to issue a blistering open letter Wednesday night seeking a reversal of the decision with Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Roger Deakins, Damien Chazelle, Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese and Emmanuel Lubezki signing on, among many others.

The board of governors would have to reconvene in order to reverse the decision.

Here is the new ASC letter:

February 15, 2019

Dear members,

At this point in time, I want to address the developments in regard to the Academy Awards directly with you.

On Monday, the Academy released the notice that the Oscar presentations to four branches — Cinematography, Editing, Makeup, and Hair Styling and Live Action Short Film — would be shorter. Representing our members of the ASC, I went public with a statement that called the decision “unfortunate” and one that we could not stay “silent” on.

Immediately, a group of our members developed an initiative to write an open letter to the Academy that could be signed by all of our supporters, which as you know went far beyond our membership and extended to now not only nearly 200 cinematographers but 75 directors, 80 actors, 30 editors and numerous other motion picture professionals. As we speak the list is still growing and this morning also Meryl Streep signed. Most of them are Academy members and many are previous Oscar winners and nominees.

The ASC found itself in the middle of this “grassroots” movement and some of you have voiced concern regarding our member John Bailey, ASC, president of the Academy, and the threat that this movement could potentially pose to the Academy as an institution.

Let me first state that everyone involved with this movement has nothing but the greatest respect for John Bailey. Not only is he one of us, but he also has an impeccable reputation of being an ethical and conscientious leader. Our “open letter” effort is directed at the Academy executives and is rooted in a concern that they are contemplating shortsighted changes and risking a potential PR fallout that could endanger the future of the entire organization. Many of us are Academy members and all are indirect benefactors from many of the great programs in education, preservation anddiversity that the Academy supports.

In this fashion, this movement has moved beyond just protecting our position as cinematographers during the Awards.

Last night, a group of our concerned members — myself, Hoyte van Hoytema, Rachael Morrison and Emmanuel Lubezki — had a very productive and positive meeting with Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy, with John Bailey present. Today they will let us know if the Academy will (hopefully) reverse its decision in regards to the Awards program. We feel that that would not only be great for the upcoming event but also a major step in the direction of the ASC working closely with the Academy to deal with the larger issues ahead of us.

The Academy’s board of governors has done a fantastic job over the years. We owe a debt of gratitude to our representatives — John Bailey, Daryn Okada, and Mandy Walker — as they have handled many other issues and made important progress. Mandy has performed especially brilliantly during this Awards conflict and has been very sincere in representing our point of view.

I hope this letter helps inform you of the full situation and the progress that has been made and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.

Sincerely,

Kees van Oostrum, ASC

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