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Entertainment – Reuters
Cuban ‘Fahrenheit’ Telecast Raises Oscar Questions
1 hour, 32 minutes ago 1:35 PM PST 08/04/04 – By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A recent broadcast on Cuban television of Michael Moore’s film “Fahrenheit 9/11” has raised questions about the Oscar eligibility of one of America’s most talked-about and critically acclaimed movies of the year.
Under Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rules, films are disqualified from competing in the Oscar race for best documentary if shown on television or on the Internet within nine months of their theatrical release.
However, an unauthorized or pirated display of a film would not render the movie ineligible, academy spokesman John Pavlik said on Tuesday.
“If somebody steals your movie and puts it on TV, we’re not going to penalize you for it,” he told Reuters.
Pavlik added that the Academy had not looked into the circumstances surrounding the film’s prime-time broadcast last Thursday on state-run television in Cuba.
Moore’s blistering critique of the President Bush and his conduct of the war in Iraq also played to packed movie houses on the communist-ruled island for a week.
A spokesman for one of the film’s U.S. distributors, the Fellowship Adventure Group — formed by Miramax Films co-chairman Bob and Harvey Weinstein — told Reuters the TV broadcast in Cuba was “not authorized.”
And entertainment trade paper Daily Variety reported that the French-based overseas distributor for the film, Wild Bunch, denied that it had made any TV deal in Cuba.
Because the Academy rule restricting TV or Internet display of Oscar contenders applies only to documentaries, “Fahrenheit 9/11” could still qualify for nomination as best picture, best director or best original screenplay.
Variety speculated that backers of the film might regard the movie, which has been popular among Hollywood’s liberal-leaning elite, as having a better chance of clinching a nomination in the best picture race if it was disqualified from the documentary contest.
Producers of Moore’s film have another month to decide how they want the film to be entered in Oscar competition. The deadline for submission of documentary candidates is Sept. 1. Pavlik said the academy typically receives about 60 submissions for that category.
Last year’s Academy Award for best documentary feature went to the Errol Morris film “Fog of War,” about the difficult lessons of military conflict learned by former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Moore won the year before for his study of gun violence in America, “Bowling for Columbine.”