Oscars: Academy Says 'Parasite' Did Not Violate Rules by Including Cannes Reference on Screener (Exclusive)

Bong Joon-Ho Palme d'Or_2 - Getty - H 2020
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The good news and the bad news about being a top-tier Oscar contender is that people watch everything that you do very carefully. That's the case this awards season for Bong Joon Ho's Parasite, a South Korean dramedy that has garnered rave reviews, become a runaway hit at the box office and is now on the hunt for not only a best international feature Oscar nomination, but a best picture one, too.

The film's Academy screener begins with a screen card that highlights that the film was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and won its top prize, the Palme d'Or. It is not the first best picture Oscar hopeful to do so — Roma, just last year, began with a mention of its Golden Lion Award from the Venice Film Festival. But some are now questioning if this is actually a violation of Academy campaign regulations governing how films may be promoted to the Academy's voting members.

The AMPAS has strict rules forbidding film distributors sending anything to Academy members that might influence their thoughts about a film — hard-copy screeners, for instance, must be sent in nondescript sleeves, as opposed to commercially available cases. The regulations' only implicit reference to film festival mentions or laurels is in section 2c, which states that mailings may not include anything "extolling the merits of a film, an achievement or an individual" or the mention of "honors or awards, past or present, received by either the film or those involved with the film."

However, under section 5, which specifically pertains to screeners, there is no reference to film festival mentions or laurels, begging the question: Does section 2c apply to screeners as well?

The Academy assessed the situation and tells The Hollywood Reporter that it does not view including a film festival mention or laurel on a qualifying theatrical version of a film as a violation of its regulations. "Academy rules require movie distributors to submit the qualifying theatrical version of films for Oscars consideration," the organization said Friday in a statement. "In some categories, including IFF [international feature film], film festival logos may have been included in the credits of the theatrical versions."

Indeed, Cannes and some other film festivals require filmmakers to include a mention or laurel of their fest in the opening credits of their theatrical versions, which is why the Academy says that its statement also applies to the screeners of a number of other 2019 films submitted for best picture Oscar consideration: FrankieGive Me LibertyHoneylandInvisible LifeLes Miserables and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.