Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bunohan nominated for the Oscars? Seriously? Wow!

I was quite shocked when I read this piece of news on and also other portals including mainstream news portals. Basically, the news is:
Bunohan Calon Awal Filem Asing Terbaik Oscar 2013!

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 OKT 2012: Filem Bunohan arahan Dain Iskandar Said atau Din Said tersenarai dalam kategori pencalonan awal kategori Filem Asing Terbaik dalam Anugerah Academy ke-85 yang bakal diadakan pada tahun hadapan.

Memetik laporan, Bunohan yang diterajui Faizal Hussein, Zahiril Adzim dan Nam Ron ini turut bersaing dengan 70 buah filem dari serata negara lain dalam kategori yang dipertandingkan di anugerah yang cukup berprestij.

Antara saingannya adalah filem Sang Penari (The Dancer) arahan Ifa Isfansyah dari Indonesia serta Barfi arahan Anurag Basu (India).

Okayyyy…now, I find Bunohan to be an excellent piece of cinema, though not mainstream commercial cinema. It is a heavy, deep and profound movie that showed what a director can do if he had the creative freedom to do so in the country. Not in any way a box office success in Malaysia, Bunohan has been quite popular overseas raking in some awards including the aforementioned NETPAC award at the Taipei Golden Horse Festival.

Now when a I read that Bunohan is a frontfunner and has been nominated for the Oscar Best Foreign Language awards, that took me by surprise. Why? Because I think, the press has got it all wrong. Either the press was wrong or the press releases were wrong.

Academy award nominations for all major categories have not been announced yet. And this includes the award for Best Foreign Language Film Festival. Yes, a country can submit one movie to the awards, but that is not considered automatic nomination, because there is a whole load of obstacles in the way.
Read the eligibility rules found in the Academy Awards website for Foreign Language Films.

A.             Each country shall be invited to submit its best motion picture to the Academy.  Selection of that picture shall be made by one organization, jury or committee that should include artists and/or craftspeople from the field of motion pictures.  A list of the selection committee members must be submitted to the Academy no later than August 1, 2012, except newly formed committees wishing to enter the competition for the first time, which must submit their paperwork to the Academy by April 1, 2012.
B.             Only one picture will be accepted from each country.
C.            The Academy will provide official entry forms to the proper committee in each country so that the producer of the selected picture can supply full information for that picture. 
D.            The official entry forms, together with a cast and credits list, a brief English-language synopsis of the film, a biography and photograph of the director, still photographs, a poster from the film’s original release, and an original newspaper or magazine clipping advertising the picture’s run, must be received in the Academy office not later than 5 p.m. PT on Monday, October 1, 2012.  Other fact sheets also may be sent to further document the submission.
E.             Prints or DCPs should be shipped prepaid for award consideration to arrive at the Academy no later than 5 p.m. PT on Monday, October 1, 2012.
F.             The print submitted for award consideration must be identical in form with the final version in general release in the country submitting the motion picture.
G.            Countries whose motion pictures are shortlisted will be required to provide a second English-language subtitled print or DCP of the film to facilitate voting screenings.  This second print or DCP is due at the Academy by 5 p.m. PT on Thursday, January 10, 2013.
H.            Prints submitted will be retained by the Academy throughout the voting process.
I.              "Every award shall be conditioned upon the delivery to the Academy of one print or one copy of every film nominated for final balloting for all Academy Awards.  Such print or copy shall be in a format and of a quality equivalent to the film’s theatrical release; if a film exists in more than one format, then the version deposited shall be the film print.  Such print or copy shall become the property of the Academy, with the proviso, however, that the Academy shall not use such print or copy for commercial gain.  Such print or copy shall be deposited with the Academy and, subject to matters not within its control, shall be screened by the Academy for the membership in advance of distribution of final ballots." (Academy Bylaws, Article VIII, Section 6.)  The Academy will retain for its archives one print of every motion picture receiving a nomination for the Foreign Language Film award.  Prints of those films receiving nominations will be returned to the sender at Academy expense.
I.                VOTING
 .              All submissions sent to the Academy will be screened by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Committee(s).  After the screenings, the committee(s) will vote by secret ballot to nominate five foreign language motion pictures for this award.
A.             Final voting for the Foreign Language Film award shall be restricted to active and life Academy members who have attended Academy screenings, or other theatrical exhibition, of all five motion pictures nominated for the award.

Now, all FINAS did was select Bunohan to represent Malaysia for the awards and hopefully they managed to fill in the correct forms and applications on that said deadline which is 1st October 2012. Failing which it would have been disqualified for consideration. Any country can select any one film produced in their country that fits the eligibility clause in the Academy Awards Rules 13, good or bad. And it is not Best Foreign Film Award, it is actually Best Foreign Language Film Award.
Once the paperwork is done, Bunohan is now representing Malaysia against all the other countries who have selected their ‘best’ films for the award. This may include Indonesia’s The Dancer and India’s Barfi.
What happens after this? A committee will view the movies and shortlist them and they will be informed and a second round of submission including new prints are required by January 1 2013.
This shortlisted group will then be screened for members again for the third round which is to select the best five foreign language films of the lot.
This top five will be announced at the main Oscar nomination event, after which a final round of voting will be held by members to select the Best Foreign Language film.
So, to blindly announce that Bunohan is the first foreign film to be nominated for the Academy awards is a little bit premature to say the list. The correct term would be Bunohan has been selected by Finas to represent Malaysia for the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category. That is all. And when Bunohan gets to be one of the 5 movies NOMINATED for the awards, then we can celebrate its historical achievement.  I wish Dain well and hope that Bunohan will be selected for the five slots in the final nomination process, and who knows even be voted as the Best Foreign Language Film awards. That would be something.
But meanwhile, the Press shouldn't go overboard. Chill. It’s really really early days yet.

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