Academy apologizes for Asian jokes at the Oscars

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Yahoo/Variety:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences apologized on Tuesday for the Asian jokes on the Feb. 28 Oscar telecast, after receiving a protest letter signed by 25 AMPAS members, including Ang Lee.

An Academy spokesperson issued the statement, “The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.”

ORIGINAL POST: Two dozen members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, including Ang Lee and several other Oscar winners, have asked the AMPAS board for “concrete steps” to ensure that future Oscarcasts will avoid the “tone-deaf approach” to Asians that was exhibited in the Feb. 28 ceremony.

The protest was delivered in advance of Tuesday’s board meeting, where diversity promises to be a key item on the agenda. The missive was sent to the board, AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, and ceremony producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill.

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The letter said, “We are writing as Academy members of Asian descent to express our complete surprise and disappointment with the targeting of Asians at the 88th Oscars telecast and its perpetuation of racist stereotypes. In light of criticism over #OscarsSoWhite, we were hopeful that the telecast would provide the Academy a way forward and the chance to present a spectacular example of inclusion and diversity. Instead, the Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its portrayal of Asians.

“We’d like to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts. We look forward to hearing from you about this matter and about the concrete steps to ensure that all people are portrayed with dignity and respect.

“We are proud that the Oscars reach several hundred million people around the world of whom 60% are Asians and potential moviegoers.”

In addition to Lee, other Oscar winners on the list include Chris Tashima (shorts and feature animation) and four members of the documentary branch: Ruby Yang, Steven Okazaki, Jessica Yu, and Freida Lee Mock. Aside from Mock, two other former governors signed, Don Hall (sound branch) and Arthur Dong (documentaries). Another three signers were Oscar nominees: Christine Choy, Renee Tajima-Pena, and Rithy Panh, again all docu-branch members.

Other signers were Yung Chang, documentary; Maysie Hoy and William Hoy, editors; Marcus Hu and Teddy Zee, executives; Janet Yang, producers; David Magdael and Laura Kim, PR; and six members of the actors branch: Nancy Kwan, Peter Kwong, Jodi Long, France Nuyen, Sandra Oh, and George Takei.

According to the International Energy Agency, Asians represent 4.3 billion, or 60% of the population. However, they are estimated to represent less than 1% of the Academy.

Sources close to the show told Variety that Chris Rock made decisions about his material (including a series of jokes about Asian children), while Sacha Baron Cohen’s crack was apparently ad-libbed. However, at a time of heightened sensitivity with racial matters, many viewers were shocked that old Asian stereotypes were trotted out for a laugh.

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“Let it Go” composer Robert Lopez (Filipino-American) writing a song for Neil Patrick Harris to perform at the Oscars

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 Audrey Magazine:

Recognize Robert Lopez? Well you certainly should. Lopez was the very first Filipino American to win an Oscar during the 86th Academy Awards. If you don’t yet recognize his name, you’ll certainly recognize Lopez’s work. This songwriter took home an Oscar for composing Frozen’s “Let it Go” with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

His time with the Academy Awards is far from over it seems. He and his wife are now writing a song for Neil Patrick Harris to sing at upcoming Oscars.

Neil Patrick Harris revealed this news just a few days ago through his official Twitter account. He explained that while he wasn’t at liberty to say what the duo is planning, he can promise that it won’t be a song called “Let It O.”

Of course, an Oscar isn’t the only thing Lopez can boast about. He is also the first Filipino American to be part of the prestigious group known as EGOT. This group– which contains only 12 individuals such as Audrey Hepburn and Whoopi Goldberg –consists of individuals who have won the four top entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Lopez has voiced that he hopes “Filipino artists everywhere take my example as proof that you don’t have to look a certain way for your dreams to come true. It just takes hard work, perseverance and some luck.”

Studio Ghibli’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” nominated for Academy Award

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RocketNews 24:

We’re just about a month away from the 87th Academy Awards presentation, and if you’re a general cinema fan, odds are you’ve been looking forward to the event. However, if the only thing that can make you take a trip to the theater is a screening of a Studio Ghibli anime, you might not have been expecting too much from the gala to be held at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater.

Ghibli’s newest film, When Marnie Was There, hasn’t been getting the sort of rave reviews of a Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Six months after its Japanese release, Marnie is mostly forgotten in its home country and still unreleased in North America, making it ineligible for this year’s Oscar race.

Thanks to the time lag caused by international distribution, though, Ghibli does have one film eligible for the upcoming academy awards, and it just cleared the first hurdle with the Academy announcing The Tale of Princess Kaguya as a nominee in the Best Animated Feature Category.

Although Kaguya premiered in Japanese theatres in late 2013, it wasn’t until the following year that it arrived in North America. Helmed by Isao Takahata, the director best known for heart-rending Word War II tragedy Grave of the Fireflies, Kaguya is based on the Japanese folktale often referred to in English as The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.

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Many of Kaguya’s elements will be familiar to viewers who’ve read or know the basic structure of the 10th century literary classic it draws from. Its visual style, though, is unprecedented, composed of subdued colors and vaguely sketched outlines that are in stark contrast to the ultra-polished look of most other Studio Ghibli films.

Also nominated for Best Animated Feature are Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Song of the Sea. Unlike Ghibli’s last shot at winning an Oscar, when Hayao Miyazaki’s swansong The Wind Rises got steamrolled by Frozen in 2014, none of Kaguya’s competitors completely set the world on fire (despite our growing infatuation with Big Hero 6’s Baymax). As such, what’s assumed by many to be Takahata’s final film has a fighting chance, although it will still have to overcome what seems to be a growing distaste in North America for non-CG animation.

▼ Since the establishment of the Best Animated Feature in 2001, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is the sole hand-drawn film to win the award, and one of only two winners that weren’t computer animated.

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With Hayao Miyazaki retired from theatrical animation and having already received an honorary Oscar for his body of work, Marnie’s lukewarm reception, and the possible disbanding of Studio Ghibli as we know it, this may be the last opportunity for Japan’s most respected animation house to bring home the Academy’s highest honor. We’ll find out whether or not it did at the awards ceremony on February 22.

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Anime News: Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” U.S. TV spots streamed

RocketNews 24:

The official channel for Hayao Miyazaki‘s final feature film, The Wind Rises began streaming two English television commercials on Monday.

Studio Ghibli International announced more screenings for The Wind Rises, on Sunday. The movie will open at limited screenings in North America on February 21, followed by wide release on February 28. It will open in Australia on February 27 and then in Britain on May 9.

The film is coming soon to Landmark Theaters across the United States including Kendall Square Cinema in Boston, Century Centre Cinema in Chicago, The Landmark in Los Angeles, Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis, Sunshine Cinema in New York, Hillcrest Cinemas in San Diego, Embarcadero Center Cinema and California Theatre in San Francisco, Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis, and Bethesda Row Cinema in Washington D.C. It will also screen at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles on February 21 and the Frank G. Wells Screening Room in Burbank, California on February 12.

The film played in New York and Los Angeles in November and in Santa Monica last month. Disney will release the film in North America, and Studio Ghibli International produced the English-language dub starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt with producer Frank Marshall (From Up On Poppy HillThe Secret World of Arrietty, Ponyo).

Miyazaki’s film won the Annie Award for Writing in an Animated Feature Production on February 1. The film is nominated in the Academy AwardsBest Animated Film category.

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