Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Fictitious Oscars
Los Angeles Times: Awful truth? Filmmaker is miffed
Why are some people complaining that "Winged Migration," a critically praised, Academy Award-nominated French documentary, is hard to see?
The answer is wrapped up in the arcane and frequently contentious world of the documentary film category. The academy requires voters to prove they have seen all the nominated films in the category (unlike most other major categories, including best picture).
That means that missing one film disqualifies a voter from casting a ballot for any film in the relevant category. And if you're Michael Moore, that's a problem. Moore's Oscar-nominated film, "Bowling for Columbine," is one of the most popular documentaries ever made. But he's worried that the limited availability of "Winged Migration" actually will skew the odds in favor of the rival French film. He goes so far as to accuse the movie's distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, of deliberately withholding the film from screenings -- which Sony Classics denies.
The theory goes like this: If the pool of eligible voters -- those who have seen all the nominees -- is limited to hard-core documentary and foreign-film fans, their choices will tend to be classical, conservative, possibly esoteric or elitist, and likely not populist.
Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" is none of these things.

Now, I ran that l-o-n-g quote in order to say this: In order to give Moore the benefit of the doubt, I have to think of a way to interpret this that doesn't put these words in his mouth: "If the voters see 'Winged Migration', they'll probably vote for it instead of mine."

Oh, well. There's a case to be made that "Bowling for Columbine" isn't a documentary. Documentaries have to be true. Here's an analysis.

(Read about it at Hooray for Captain Spaulding.)

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