Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their controversial decision to bump four Oscar categories– cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstylings and live-action shorts– to commercial breaks during this year’s broadcast of the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.
The announcement was met with harsh criticism from moviegoers and filmmakers alike. The Hollywood Reporter recounts an email sent to all 380 members of the American Society of Cinematographers from guild president Kees van Oostrum. In his email, Oostrum calls the move “most unfortunate,” adding:
“We cannot quietly condone this decision without protest.”
Van Oostrum continues:
“We consider filmmaking to be a collaborative effort where the responsibilities of the director, cinematographer, editor and other crafts often intersect This decision could be perceived as a separation and division of this creative process, thus minimizing our fundamental creative contributions.”
Cinematographers were not the only filmmakers voicing their dissatisfaction at the move. Roma‘s Alfonso Cuaron, who is nominated in the cinematography category this year, took to Twitter to make the point that cinematography and editing are the characteristics that define filmmaking from other art forms:
In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.
— Alfonso Cuaron (@alfonsocuaron) February 12, 2019
Academy Award-nominated director Jason Reitman responded:
Editing is filmmaking. Say it ain’t so, Oscars.
— Jason Reitman (@JasonReitman) February 12, 2019
Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro shared his thoughts in a recently deleted tweet:
“If I may: I would not presume to suggest what categories to cut during the Oscars show but — Cinematography and Editing are at the very heart of our craft. They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition: they are cinema itself.”
Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, the Oscar-winning cinematographer of such films as Gravity, Birdman and The Revanant, posted to his Instagram account:
What do you think about the Academy’s decision to bump the four Oscar categories to commercial break? Do you think it will help boost viewership? Or do you, like these filmmakers, have a problem with it? I would love to hear from you, so feel free to hit me up in the comments below!