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General News    H4'ed 1/12/14

The Politics of OSCAR: Is The Mandela Movie Being Dissed?

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Message Danny Schechter

Also, the Academy voters are hardly hostile or naive.

Mandela was a big hit when he visited Los Angeles on his national trip in 1990.  A reception drew every major black star in town including Muhammad Ali, along with many pols and liberal luminaries. He received the key to the city and a rally packed the old LA Coliseum. The Artists for a Free South Africa has been based there and kept some public attention focused on the "beloved country's' artists and needs.

Years ago, one of my Mandela documentaries was passed over for Oscar consideration, but the Academy, out of interest I am sure, hosted a screening in LA under their auspices. I was pleased to be there and got lots of positive comments from the audience. That was the closest I got to the Oscar people.

So, yes, there is sympathy in Tinsel Town, but, perhaps, not much more because commerce, grosses and celebrities, not newsy issues, are always topic #1 in the industry city.

Movies about the great and the good have an uphill battle in challenging Hollywood product that, this year again, seems more mesmerized by big time crime dramas like American Hustle and the Wolf of Wall Street that make con men appear cool and groovy. Their only morality is amorality.

Those movies feature better-known stars and more made in the USA storylines, aided and abetted by even bigger and more recent advertising budgets. Mandela Long Walk To Freedom didn't have the deep pockets to compete with the blitz of new ads when the film went into "wide release" on Christmas Day. By then, it was already considered old.

The Golden Globes did give Mandela three nominations--one to Idris Elba, the male lead, and two for music--one to the Irish hand U2 for the hardly political up-beat end song. Getting the band to the awards ceremony will enhance that show's appeal, but everyone knows the Globes reflect the picks of many self-styled foreign correspondents, not died in the wool movie industry Americanos.

The NAACP image awards also honored Elba as one of their own. In Britain, their film academy nominated Mandela for the best British film of the year, even though it was primarily made by Videovision, a South African company, although the director, screenwriter and a producer hail from England.

 I had a sense that the producers preferred to work with UK professionals that would be less arrogant and controlling than Hollywood heavies.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.
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