Russian Filmmakers Set Sights on Alternative to Oscars

The Guide - H 2014
Courtesy of Odessa International Film Festival

The Guide - H 2014

The country's cinematographer's union says one Academy Award a year for foreign film is discriminatory.

Russia's Union of Cinematographers is planning to establish an alternative to the Oscars.

A new "Eurasian Oscar" focused on movies shot in the BRICS countries and surrounding regions – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – would address what it sees as discrimination in the current Academy Awards set-up.

"Only one nomination out of 24 for the U.S. Oscars is awarded to a foreign film," Oleg Ivanov, deputy chairman of the Union of Russian Cinematographers said. "Therefore, it is necessary to establish an academy and film award of the BRICS countries, where more than 40 percent of the world's population lives."

Ivanov added that the union was in talks with Russia's National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – which runs the annual Golden Eagle awards – to establish the new body by 2016 to coincide with the Year of Russian Cinema.

The idea to come up with an alternative body to celebrate film from the world beyond Hollywood's borders emerged earlier this summer at the annual BRICS summit, hosted by Russia in Ufa, Ivanov told Russian news agency TASS.

His comments came as disquiet emerged over the Oscar nomination process in Ukraine for the foreign-language film race. Two Ukrainian producers Wednesday issued an open letter calling for more openness in a process that last year led to a rift in the filmmaking community in the country.

Igor Savychenko and Maxim Asidchiy, who produced Brothers, The Final Confession and last year's Ukrainian Oscar nomination The Guide say silence around the selection process is breeding ill-feeling with no sign yet of a "call for entries."

Their letter, addressed to the heads of the Ukrainian filmmakers' union, producers association and Ukrainian State Film Agency, notes that, with less than a month to go before the submission deadline, "at least 15 countries have already selected their official entires. In others shortlists are announced. And only in Ukraine do we still not have any news on the Oscar committee launch."

Last year, resentment over the selection of The Guide – rather than the favorite, deaf-mute drama The Tribe – "led to the mass withdrawal of members from the Oscar committee," the letter noted.