Oscar film awards, comments

This video is called Citizenfour Official Trailer 1 (2014) – Edward Snowden Documentary HD.

By David Walsh in the USA:

87th Academy Awards: A more intriguing event than in recent years

24 February 2015

The Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night turned out to be one of the more intriguing ones in recent years. In a comment posted February 21, I observed that “Occurring at a time of unprecedented global tension and volatility, virtually no hint of the external world will be permitted entry into the self-absorbed proceedings.” This turned out to be an overly pessimistic prediction, although social realities inevitably found expression on Sunday in a manner that accords with the film world’s peculiarities and contradictions. …

Abderrahmane Sissoko’s Timbuktu and Wim WendersSalt of the Earth also received nominations. Shamefully, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, the best film of the year, failed to win any of the three awards for which it was nominated.

The victory of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ chilling documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in the best documentary category, was certainly a high point of the awards program and a slap in the face for the Obama administration and the American establishment. Poitras, who has not traveled to the US in recent years for fear of prosecution, accepted the award alongside journalist Glenn Greenwald and Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills, as well as editor Mathilde Bonnefoy and producer Dirk Wilutzky.

In her acceptance speech, Poitras said: “The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers. And I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth.”

In response to the award, Snowden released a statement through the American Civil Liberties Union: “When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

The award and Poitras’ comments were very warmly received by the audience at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. …

The evening as a whole had this somewhat schizophrenic character, with the series of insipid and complacent presentations interrupted occasionally by glimpses of reality. At any event, the absolute prohibition on commentary by award winners, which has been enforced by the Academy (or adhered to by recipients) since Michael Moore’s 2003 acceptance speech in which he indicted George W. Bush as a “fictitious president” and criticized the invasion of Iraq, has been broken through.

Receiving her award, one of the first major ones of the evening, Arquette commented with some feeling, “It’s time for us to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women.” Its limitations notwithstanding, the remarks seemed to burst a certain dam, followed as they were not too much later by the award for Citizenfour and Poitras’ comments.

The performance of Glory, a song from Selma, the film about the civil rights struggle, contributed something as well. The number, presented by its composers, singer-songwriter John Legend (John Roger Stephens) and rapper Common (Lonnie Lynn), as well as paying tribute to the battles of the 1960s, made reference to police violence in Ferguson, Missouri. In his eventual acceptance speech, Legend observed, “We live in the most incarcerated country in the world.” …

The official atmosphere remains conventional and patriotic. Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, a filthy film that lies about the reality of the Iraq war, was treated with thorough-going respect, although, fortunately, it was snubbed in all the categories in which it received nominations, except a minor one.

Right-wing circles are already mouthing off about how Hollywood’s “elite” is “out of touch” with Americans because Eastwood’s film did not win recognition. This is self-serving, reactionary nonsense. The mandate of the Academy voters is to select, to the best of their collective ability, the “best” picture, not the most popular one. None of the top-grossing films, including American Sniper, received a major award, nor did any deserve one.

Given the current state of affairs in the US, where the population is both widely denied access to education and culture and comes under the immense pressure of a vast media-entertainment marketing machine (and, in the case of American Sniper, a semi-officially sponsored publicity campaign), there is no reason to accept box office success or failure as the last court of judgment. As though broad layers of the population truly had a choice, in any meaningful sense, about which films to see … !

“American Sniper” Chris Kyle Distorted His Military Record, Documents Show: here.

5 thoughts on “Oscar film awards, comments

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