Oscar change sparks Puerto Rican ire

Oct. 26, 2011 at 2:25 PM
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Latino actors and filmmakers are appealing a change to Oscar rules that deny Puerto Rican films from being considered in the Foreign Language category.

Esai Morales, Benicio del Toro, Jimmy Smits and Maria Conchita Alonso have joined in a petition calling on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to reverse its decision to stop accepting Puerto Rican films in the Foreign Language category because of its status as a U.S. protectorate.

"According to the 14th rule for the Foreign Language category, Puerto Rican films qualify because we produce in Spanish and we are geographically and legally outside of the U.S., as resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Academy must honor the category's criteria," Frances Lausell, producer of the film "America," based on Puerto Rican writer Esmeralda Santiago's book, said in a statement Wednesday.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it stopped accepting Puerto Rican films in the category after 2010 to correct an inconsistency that allowed a U.S. territory to compete in a category meant for countries other than the United States, Variety reported earlier this month.

Lausell called the rule "uninformed and a mistake that seems discriminatory against all Puerto Ricans and offensive to the Latino community in general."

Lausell and director Sonia Fritz said their submission of "America" as the Puerto Rican entry in the Foreign Language category was denied by the Academy because of the rule change.

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