Make Completeness a Requirement for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar sign now

"It is wrong to cut scenes from a film -- just as it is to rip pages from a book -- simply because we don't like the way something was portrayed or said, then resell it with the original title and creator's name still on it. It is wrong to circumvent the studios, who are the copyright holders, and the director, who is the film's creator -- all in the name of turning a profit."
-Directors Guild President Martha Coolidge

As foreign language cinema continues to reach more viewers and achieve more popularity in the United States, the desirability of complete and untainted presentations becomes evident. Thanks largely to the versatility and accessibility of the DVD medium, the general public is more appreciative of subtitles as opposed to dubbing, original aspect ratio, extended directors cuts and the behind-the-scenes realities of filmmaking than was previously the case. Hence, it stands to reason that a foreign language film distributed in the U.S. should be presented in its entirety and in a manner which is respectful to both the audience and to the films original creators. Besides being the morally responsible thing to do, this is also simply good business sense. Sadly, there is often a rift between the ideal and the reality.

Currently, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires that a foreign language film be shown with accurate English subtitles and be accompanied by written verification of the directors artistic control of the film from the country of origin in order to be eligible for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. We, the undersigned, believe that an amendment should be made to these regulations requiring the U.S. distributor of the film to release it without any additional cuts or modifications made by themselves or anyone else who was not directly involved with the original creation of the film, and to make this incarnation of the film the main release rather than showing a modified version in some theaters and the complete original in others.

We fully understand that it is common practice for a studio to make certain modifications to a film that they themselves produced -- sometimes against the wishes of the director -- and that these modifications often take the form of excised footage, for reasons as diverse as potentially offensive imagery to pacing and duration issues. While this is a regrettable state of affairs for many of us, we do not contest the situation; the films financial backers have a right to protect their investment.

However, this should not be the case for those instances where a studio merely purchases the distribution rights to a film that was completed without their assistance. Miramax Films, for example, is particularly notorious for removing footage from the foreign language films it distributes, believing for one reason or another that their tampering will somehow improve the films critical reception and/or profitability. Thus, North American viewers are prevented from seeing the film in its complete and original state and are deprived of the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not the film is too long, suitable to their personal sensibilities, and so forth.

It is our firm and unwavering belief that this situation is simply indefensible.

If there was ever a time when the cutting or modification of a motion picture by anyone who did not play an active role in its creation was necessary to ensure its chance for success, that time is long gone. Studios who take it upon themselves to make unwelcome and unnecessary changes to foreign films that were made without their backing can come up with any number of sugar-coated terms to try and justify their crimes against the worlds most popular art form, but the fact remains that when something is removed from a film for one audience that was not removed for another, the film becomes incomplete. Incomplete presentations of foreign films, we believe, should not be eligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar or the prestige that accompanies it. The creators of the films in question deserve to have their creations treated with respect, and we, the viewers, deserve to see the films as they were originally made in their native countries (with the inclusion of accurate English subtitles, of course).

At the risk of sounding redundant, it is worth emphasizing again that we do not contest a studios right to alter a film which they themselves financed and produced; such is the nature of filmmaking. This petition is concerned only with those foreign films that are produced and completed without the assistance of the U.S. distributor who secures the rights afterwards. It is not as if a film only becomes real or legitimate when a company like Miramax steps in and purchases the right to distribute it in North America (or any other part of the world). We understand that these practices are firmly established and that U.S. distributors will, in all likelihood, continue to modify films that are not truly theirs with or without the permission of the original creators, but it does not seem unreasonable to request that these companies leave the films as is if they want them to be eligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The prestige of that award is too great to be given to a company that chooses not to let audiences see the winning film in its entirety, and when this happens, its credibility is diminished. This must cease if the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is to attain the respect it so richly deserves.

Thank you kindly for giving this matter your consideration.

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Latest Signatures

  • 11 December 2015900. Jonas S
    I support this petition
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    I support this petition
  • 08 December 2015898. Vincent Faulkner
    I support this petition
  • 07 December 2015897. Katayfa Murray
    We're not so dumb as to not not be able to understand foreign movies.
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  • 04 December 2015893. Matthew H
    please don't ruin anymore classic films. it is a crime.
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  • 02 December 2015890. Desmond O
    I feel that foreign films should be kept in their original form with no cuts except made by the directror.
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  • 20 November 2015883. Brandon B
    Stop the racism, include ALL forms of films.
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  • 09 November 2015878. Elizabeth A
    high time proper respect is given other cultures &it's people so we can have better understanding for others---not just our own--in the state of world today cinema holds immeasurable power to narrow its gap & must not be abused--this the first ste
  • 28 October 2015877. Richard T
    Leave the film alone! American director say "that my art work, why are you edit and butchering my art". So why would the academy of motion picture violate that artist expression.
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Information

Yolanda BrightBy:
TelecommunicationsIn:
Petition target:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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