American Cinema Editors Denounce Decision to Pre-Tape Oscar Categories in Letter to the Academy

In a letter Saturday morning, American Cinema Editors (ACE) urged the Academy to reverse its controversial decision to present eight of this year’s Oscars in a pre-taped segment.

“Treating certain categories differently from others has struck a nerve within our community, with the overwhelming majority of our membership feeling unheard, disrespected and abandoned by the very same Academy which so many of us have supported for decades,” the letter read.

The Academy’s decision to change the show’s format, first announced on Feb. 22, was met with swift backlash from all sides of the film community. The categories relegated to the pre-taped segment are film editing, production design, makeup and hairstyling, documentary short, original score live-action short film, animated short film and sound.

“This year’s show producers and Academy leadership with oversight of the Oscars have made the decision, with endorsement from the officers and the Awards Committee, that every awards category must be featured on the television broadcast, though eight awards will initially be presented in the Dolby Theatre in the hour before the live broadcast begins,” the Academy wrote in a letter to its members announcing the decision.

While the awards will be edited into the live broadcast and won’t be cut entirely, ACE wrote in its letter that the decision is “not the solution to the dwindling ratings.”

“There are other creative and entertaining ways to shorten a show — we know, that’s what we do!” ACE wrote. “We believe that true fans of the Oscars don’t want to see an evening celebrating the highest honor in our industry reduced to a buzzy variety spectacle.”

Despite a number of similar pleas from other organizations, including the Society of Composers and Lyricists and the Cinema Audio Society, the Academy has made no indication that it will reverse the decision, and that possibility seems even less likely with a little more than a week to go before the ceremony on March 27.

The Hollywood Reporter was first to obtain the letter.

Read ACE’s full letter to the Academy below:

Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,

We, the American Cinema Editors Board of Directors, write to you as representatives of the 1000+ members of our organization to address the Academy’s announcement to present eight categories with pre-taped acceptance speeches during the live Oscars telecast on March 27. Treating certain categories differently from others has struck a nerve within our community, with the overwhelming majority of our membership feeling unheard, disrespected and abandoned by the very same Academy which so many of us have supported for decades.

While editors can empathize with the need to balance honoring art with the popularity and viewership of the event, we must restate our belief that the decision to cull these categories in the manner described is not the solution to the dwindling ratings. There are other creative and entertaining ways to shorten a show — we know, that’s what we do! We believe that true fans of the Oscars don’t want to see an evening celebrating the highest honor in our industry reduced to a buzzy variety spectacle.

The Academy Awards have always been about the art of cinema, and editing is unique to film; it is a creative process that was born when motion pictures were invented. Without editing there would be no movies. But we speak not only for ourselves, but for composers, art directors and the others sidelined by this plan. The stated mission of the Academy is “to recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspire imagination, and connect the world through the medium of motion pictures.” How can this be done without equally upholding the contributions of each of the creative filmmaking disciplines? The Academy must continue to be true to these ideals.

It is for these reasons and more that we encourage the show’s producers and Academy leadership to reverse their decision. Hear our voice and the voices of the many leaders in our industry and let every nominee and winner have their honored Oscar experience LIVE on the telecast.

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