Alliance for Women Film Composers Condemn Oscars for Cut Category

The Alliance for Women Film Composers (AWFC) has released a statement condemning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ decision to not broadcast the best original score category live during this year’s Oscar ceremony.

The Academy first confirmed its decision to present several Oscar categories outside of the live March 27 telecast on Tuesday, via a letter from President David Rubin that was sent to Academy membership. The letter explained that these awards will instead be given out an hour prior to the on-camera ceremony, with clips from the speeches being incorporated into the telecast. The other categories aside from score that will not be awarded live this year are documentary short, animated short, live action short, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, production design and sound. The move generated instant controversy among industry veterans, with the American Cinema Editors guild issuing a public statement condemning the decision.

AWFC’s statement, which is signed by top members of the alliance including president Catherine Joy, expresses disappointment in the Academy for cutting original score and the other seven categories from the live show, saying that the decision sends a message that the work that the people recognized in the categories do does not matter. While the letter acknowledges the Academy’s desire to streamline the ceremony, it urges them to find a way to do so that still respects the craftspeople vital in making films.

“Moving the award out of the live telecast and editing it down will degrade the importance of this category,” the statement reads. “What message does this decision give to young people who dream of becoming a composer, to follow in the footsteps of composers such as Hildur Gudnadóttir, Rachel Portman, Anne Dudley and Germaine Franco? We feel it gives the message that music does not matter to the Oscars. ”

The statement also notes that this year’s original score category represents an important milestone with the inclusion of Franco, the first woman of color nominated as a composer at the Oscars and the first woman in history to score a Disney feature film. The statement points out that Franco winning could be a historic moment. By not airing it live, the Academy would be diminishing its impact. The statement also references past wins in the original score category, such as the first Black winner, Jon Batiste, for last year’s “Soul,” or the third female winner, Hildur Guðnadóttir, for 2019’s “Joker,” as previous examples of inspiring and important moments that would have been erased had the Oscars not included them in the live show.

The AWFC was first established in 2014. Since its inception, it has grown to include over 550 members around the globe. Read their full statement below:

The Alliance for Women Film Composers is extremely disappointed at the exclusion of the score composers category and the seven other categories that highlight an inclusive array of integral creative artists in the filmmaking process.

Germaine Franco, nominated for best original score, is making history this year being the first women of color ever nominated in this category and the first woman to ever score a Disney Feature. One thing we have seen throughout the history of the Oscars is the power of representation. It can change lives and inspire future creatives. Last year Jon Batiste, winning best original score for the animated feature film ‘Soul,’ was only the third black composer winning in the original score category after Prince and Herbie Hancock. The fact that historical moments like this will be hidden from the Academy Awards broadcast is a great shame.

In 2020 Hildur Guðnadóttir won an Academy Award for best original score after sweeping the awards circuit. A quote from her acceptance speech, seen in full on the broadcast, was printed in the LA times and many other publications the next day and continues to inspire people around the world: ‘To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices. ‘

Wouldn’t it have been a shame if this moment would have been edited down and we would not have seen Gal Gadot, Brie Larson, and Sigourney Weaver presenting the Best Original Score award, putting the spotlight on women artistry? If we would not have seen Hildur being announced as Oscar recipient, her emotional reaction, her walk onto the stage and her full unedited acceptance speech, it would have robbed young people around the globe of an inspiring moment.

And this is what the Academy is trying to do this year. Moving the award out of the live telecast and editing it down will degrade the importance of this category. What message does this decision give to young people who dream of becoming a composer, to follow in the footsteps of composers such as Hildur Gudnadóttir, Rachel Portman, Anne Dudley, and Germaine Franco? We feel it gives the message that music does not matter to the Oscars.

The Alliance for Women Film Composers hopes that AMPAS will revise their decision and give all categories equal importance in order for the nominated creative artists to be seen and heard by audiences around the globe who strive that also their voices will be heard in the future. Music matters to people all over the world – and we hope AMPAS will give it the importance it deserves!

We implore the Academy to streamline the Awards while also prioritizing inclusive representation and celebrating all the categories.

Kind regards,

The Alliance for Women Film Composers

Catherine Joy – President
Sharon Farber – Vice President
Esin Ozlem Aydingoz – Secretary
Thomas Mikusz – Treasurer
Allyson Newman – Director of Membership and Outreach

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