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Cannes Hit 'Blue Is The Warmest Color' Sets Fall Release Date, Academy Won't Bend Rules To Allow Oscar Consideration

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by Kevin Jagernauth
July 17, 2013 4:23 PM
6 Comments
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Ever since the Cannes Film Festival, it has been equal doses of praise and controversy for the Palme d'Or-winning lesbian romance epic "Blue Is The Warmest Color." A movie we've called one of the best of the year so far, it has seen author Julie Maroh raise concerns about the graphic sex in the film, which she equated to porn, while some of the folks who worked on Abdellatif Kechiche's film claim they were bullied and the production was "anarchic" and over-budget. And yet through all of that no one can doubt the quality of the movie, but despite best efforts, one of the year's finest films won't get a chance at winning an Oscar. Ironic.

The writing was on the wall a couple weeks back when French distributors Wild Bunch revealed that a fall release in France means it will miss the (arbitrary) date set by the rules of the Academy, which state that foreign films need to screen in their home country before September 30th. Hoping for an exception, U.S. distributor Sundance Selects made their own plea to the Academy to bend the rules, but alas, it is not to be. The random date stands, and this year's Palme d'Or winner won't be in the running for Best Foreign Film, which may as well now be called Best Foreign Film That Isn't "Blue Is The Warmest Color."

Attempts were made to open the movie in limited release in France to get the qualification for Oscar contention covered, but French distributors turned it down, choosing to prepare for their release this fall. As for Sundance Selects, they hope the Academy takes a look at their rules which don't reflect the current movie market reality. “It’s a global business right now and to hold the Foreign Language titles to a September 30th date [is not good]. This present [Academy] administration has been really great about re-visiting things that don’t really make sense and I’m just hoping that will happen,” president Jonathan Sehring told Deadline.

The silver lining is that the film will be eligible for the Golden Globes and other awards, and Sundance Selects still plans to go hard in promoting the movie. They've set an October 25th release date and have submitted the movie to festivals in Telluride, Toronto and New York, and those folks will undoubtedly want to showcase the Palme d'Or winner. So no Oscar for 'Blue,' but the buzz and momentum will hardly be stopped. 

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6 Comments

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | July 19, 2013 5:47 AMReply

    "No one can doubt the quality of the movie"? Three names off the top of my head: Mahola Dargis, Mark Peranson, and Amy Taubin (who scores the film in the new issue of FILM COMMENT). Plus I don't see how anyone can read the Maroh statement linked above and suggest she doesn't "doubt the quality of the movie." If you like it, fine, but don't invent unanimity where none exists.

  • Milton P. | July 18, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    What a dumb rule for foreign language film. Sept. 30th? I'd assume that like here the many the good, original and edgy foreign movies come out in the fall/winter over there. This date almost ensure the soft squishy foreign films that always get nominated and win at the Oscars. Seems to be set up by design to shield the US and keep it all family friendly (Billy Crystal-safe if you may). Can anyone find a good explanation for that date to counter my speculation?.

  • Jeff | July 18, 2013 2:38 PMReply

    I should probably retract my earlier comments. Hansen sounds like he's in the know, and Sehring obviously thinks there was a very good chance the French committee would select it. I still think of the Academy's foreign film committee membership as doddering old folks with pedestrian taste in cinema and a dislike of anything remotely "edgy," but in the wake of things like the Dogtooth nom, I probably need to rethink that.

  • Hansen | July 18, 2013 1:03 AMReply

    Not true Jeff. While The Past is a strong film, I was unable to locate one person, in the know, who was thinking it would be submitted ahead of Blue is the Warmest Color if Blue was eligible. Not one. This was the same kind of thought process that had people thinking The Past would beat Blue for the Palme d'Or.

  • Jeff | July 18, 2013 1:49 AM

    The Academy and the Cannes jury are two very different audiences. Surely the French selection committee are smart enough to be aware of whom they're pandering to.

  • Jeff | July 17, 2013 5:14 PMReply

    It's a complete non-issue. Each country only gets to submit one film for the "Best Foreign Language Film" category. The chances of France submitting a controversially graphic lesbian odyssey over Asghar Farhadi's Academy-friendly THE PAST were approximately zero anyway (Palme be damned). Since it's being released commercially in the U.S. during this calendar year, the film will still be eligible in every narrative Oscar category *except* "Best Foreign Language Film." It's best (though admittedly long) shots were always for actress and director anyway.

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