Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President John Bailey on Tuesday weighed in on diversity, saying there are great filmmakers everywhere and they need to be acknowledged.
“The Academy and film institutes around the world are dealing with issues of…encouraging and supporting diversity while not compromising on the inherent artistic value of films,” Bailey said here amidst many aspiring Indian filmmakers.
He agreed that the Academy is looking for increasing its membership in diversity, but not at the expense of quality.
“Last year, we brought in 928 new members into the Academy. Fifty per cent were international members… we have been so Hollywood-centric for so long.
“There are literally thousands of incredible filmmakers around the world… men and women who have been making movies for 30, 40, 50 years who could have been, but have never been invited in the Academy or didn’t know that they could be sponsored.
“There need be no compromises. There are great filmmakers everywhere. We need to acknowledge them and their films need to be seen irrespective of gender, race, any kind of ethnicity… at the same time, we need to pay attention to those issues because we have ignored them for so long,” he said.
Bailey shared that the Academy had started an initiative to double its membership in diversity.
“That is inviting more women into all the branches of the Academy. That is also a commitment to diversity in languages, film culture around world,” he said.
Talking about his visit to India, he said: “Your films are made in 23 or 24 languages. When the Academy is thinking of diversity, I can’t think of any other country in the world that represents the opportunities and challenges of diversity and unifying us all through diversity than in India.”
Hailing India as a land of story-tellers, he highlighted the need for filmmakers to tell personal stories. He also appreciated the enthusiasm and willingness shown by India towards deeper collaboration with the Academy.
The session here was also attended by Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, Central Board of Film Certification.
Joshi talked about how cinema is a part and parcel of everyday life in India. He highlighted the current trend of ‘Cinema Loktantra’, the democratization of cinema in India through technology and increased outreach.