Ukrainian Filmmakers Propose Changes to Oscar Entry's Selection Process

The Tribe Still Cannes - H 2014
Courtesy of Festival de Cannes

The Tribe Still Cannes - H 2014

Last year's naming of 'The Guide' as Ukraine's foreign language Oscar entry led to controversy. Now, rule changes may be in the works.

Following last year's controversy over Ukraine's entry in the foreign language Oscar race, the country's union of filmmakers has come up with a set of proposals aimed at making the nomination procedure fair and transparent.

"It doesn't matter what agency names Ukraine's Oscar entry," producer Denis Ivanov, one of the advocates of amending the nomination procedure, told The Hollywood Reporter. "What is important is that decisions are made transparently and by qualified people."

Currently, Ukraine's association of producers names the country's Oscar entry. However, the association's decision last year to nominate Oles Sanin's Povodyr (The Guide) over the festival hit Plemya (The Tribe), the winner of Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes, stirred controversy. When the decision was made, The Tribe already had a US distributor.

The Tribe's director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky challenged the decision, claiming that only four of nine members of the selection committee took part in discussing the nomination and that three of them had been involved in the production of The Guide.

Four members of the selection committee, including its chairman, resigned in the wake of the controversy. The Guide eventually failed to be shortlisted, while The Tribe continued its successful festival run and collected the Discovery of the Year award at the European Film Awards.

"Following the controversy and resignation of several selection committee members, the association of producers has no understanding of how the selection procedure should now work," Ivanov said.

Under new proposals, the selection committee would feature filmmakers who have participated or won awards at top-level international festivals, as well as Ukrainian members of the American and European film academies, local film critics and festival selectors.

Meanwhile, to make any amendments to the existing procedure, the union of filmmakers will have to come to agreement with the association of producers. So far, the latter doesn't seem to be cooperative.

The association's general director Denis Maslikov said on his Facebook account that he seems no reasons to amend the existing procedure.

Still, the reformers are determined to see their ideas implemented. Ivanov said that if they are unable to reach an agreement with the producers' association, they will address the Oscar Academy directly, pointing to irregularities in the existing procedure.