Whether 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s deservedly praised film about slavery in 19th century America, will be as gilded with film awards this year as it has already been with critical plaudits is by no means as certain as some have suggested. In July, an African-American woman, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, was elected president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which votes for the Oscar winners, but, as the LA Times revealed last year, the academy itself is “mostly” white, and by “mostly” they mean an almost laughable 94%. Just in case anyone out there thought they’d slipped through some kind of time/space continuum, yes, you are in 2014. Obviously a person does not have to be black to appreciate 12 Years a Slave (“enjoy” is the wrong verb for such a harrowing film), but this inequality of the Academy does go, shall we say, some way to explaining why films about black and African-American experiences tend to be so under-represented in film awards, and it will be interesting to see how the various films out this year about those very subjects (The Butler, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Fruitvale Station, 12 Years) do over the next… Read full this story
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