Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Guardian, UK : Cuban screening won't rule Moore out of Oscars

Staff and agencies
Wednesday August 4, 2004


Michael Moore
Michael Moore: tipped to win best director Oscar
Photo: AP
Fahrenheit 9/11 is still eligible for next year's Oscars despite being screened on Cuban TV last week, the Academy of Motions Picture Arts and Sciences has admitted.

There had been fears that the illegal broadcast might have scuppered director Michael Moore's chance to add to his 2003 award for Bowling For Columbine. The Academy rules that any feature documentary that airs on TV within nine months of its theatrical release is automatically barred from contention.

Michael Moore's provocative portrait of the Bush administration was given a primetime slot on Cuba's state-run TV station last Tuesday. But the film's backers insist that the screening was illegal, unauthorised and broadcast from a pirate copy. There are also believed to be 120 pirate DVDs of the film currently playing at cinemas across Cuba.

In a joint statement, the film's distributors - Harvey and Bob Weinstein, IFC Entertainment chief Jonathan Sehring and Lions Gate president Tom Ortenberg, insisted that the Academy's rule "has not been violated because it was a stolen copy and was in no way authorised by its distributors".

Yesterday the Academy appeared to accept the argument. "As far as we are concerned, if this was a bootleg, as we believe it was, then we will not penalise them," Academy director of communications John Pavlik told Variety.

The makers of Fahrenheit 9/11 have until September 1 to submit it for consideration for next year's best documentary feature Oscar. However, there is speculation that the film may yet be entered in the race for best picture, with Moore already tipped as an outside bet for best director.

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