Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Summer 2004: Fast Track v.2
"From independent filmmakers, film critics, Academy members and a wide array of award-granting bodies, to established industry insiders and the heads of the MMPS’ own Specialty Divisions, a singular message was projected loud and clear: the screener ban would be profoundly destructive to the fortunes of independent and specialty-film distribution. Those opposed to the ban called and wrote letters to executives of the MPAA and the MMPS, spoke out in the mass media, published open letters in the trades signed by hundreds of filmmakers, etc. — they dissected the “logic of the ban” and offered to work with the MPAA to find equitable and effective solutions to address their piracy concerns.2

How did the MPAA react to this concerted opposition? On October 23rd the MPAA and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences issued a joint press release announcing that “an agreement had been reached to allow for the distribution of ‘screener’ copies of motion pictures… to Academy members.”3 The remedy was worse than the illness: allowing only Academy members access to screeners severely disadvantaged all of the other accolade and award-granting entities. More to the point, given that the awards strategy of independent films often relies on moving up the awards ladder — from, for instance, critic’s accolades, to the SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globes and culminating in the Academy Awards — this policy only validated the worst fears of those opposing the ban: that the MPAA and the studios desired to win more Academy Awards and that they were using their anti-piracy campaign as a cover to marginalize independent film and competing awards bodies."

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