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9692: Foreign Language Film at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rejects LUMUMBA (fwd)

From: Bobrunel@aol.com

Raoul Peck's LUMUMBA deemed not fit to qualify as the Haitian nominee
for consideration in the Best Foreign Film category by the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Committee for Foreign Language at the AMPAS has rejected LUMUMBA, the 
award winning film of Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, as the Haitian entry for 
Best Foreign Film consideration by the Academy.  This serves as a foreboding 
message to any films or filmmakers from other "less able", third world 
countries that they might also not qualify to be recognized for works that 
mean more to them and their country than just another movie.

The Foreign Language Film Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and 
Sciences has certain criteria by which they determine whether a given foreign 
film is eligible for nomination.  It was the decision of the Academy that 
because LUMUMBA did not have any key crew positions outside of Mr. Peck 
himself (Writer, Director, Producer) that were of Haitian nationality, the 
film did not satisfy it's criteria.  These criteria are designed to assure 
that nationals of the country nominating the film produce the film to the 
fullest extent possible.  If you look closely however, that is exactly the 
case when it comes to LUMUMBA.  Nationals of Haiti -- the country that is 
nominating the film, produced the film to the fullest extent possible. 

Haiti is a poor country.  Even so, Haiti did its part in contributing 
financially to Lumumba through the Lome Convention Funds. LUMUMBA marks the 
first time that Haiti has even been able to present a film to the Academy for 
consideration in this category. Unfortunately, given Haiti's extreme poverty 
and survival economy, the extent to which there even exist Haitians who can 
fill technical cinematographic or artistic positions is extremely limited.  
Mr. Peck made every effort to find such persons in Haiti, but in the end, 
found that they did not exist on a level that would have made economic or 
artistic sense on such an ambitious project while also respecting the films 
co-production requirements. This is a problem that filmmakers from many 
countries all around the world face. However, one must ask, "Does it make LU
MUMBA less of a "Haitian" film?" If this is the case, then are all films made 
by Mr. Peck are NOT Haitian? 

Mr. Peck is a Haitian citizen who has proudly served his country in 1996-1997 
during Haiti's second democratically elected government as Minister of 
Culture. He runs an established cultural foundation and just recently opened 
a cinema there as well. He has also spent his film career making both 
documentary and narrative films about Haiti, its citizens and the plights of 
those of many third world countries like "Haitian Corner", "L'Homme sur les 
Quais" and "Haiti - Silence of the Dogs."

LUMUMBA, since its opening in the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes 
International Film Festival, has been met with great success in numerous 
countries, in the Caribbean and Latin America and in particular in many 
French speaking African and Arab countries.  Everywhere, the tale of this 
forgotten hero and historical figure has moved audiences. In every single 
country, this film has been felt and regarded as a vivid example of what 
cinema can do for values, contents, insights and history yet still be an 
entertaining product, which is accessible to a large audience.  

One cannot help but to feel that it is a terrible injustice to leave this 
film out of a competition where it seems to deserve (at the very least) a 
chance to compete. This film certainly fulfilled the spirit, if not the 
letter of the Academy rules and should have been accepted under these 
circumstances.  Ironically, because of it's release in the US, Zeitgeist 
Films has also submitted and qualified LUMUMBA for selection in other 
categories like Best Film,  Best Director and Best Actor.  However, without a 
substantial and costly Academy campaign, the film has very little chance of 
having a voice in those mainstream categories. More importantly, there will 
be other worthy films that should be eligible to qualify who might not even 
have the opportunity to have had US distribution.  What will become of their