France Overhauls Oscar Submission Committee

France has rejigged its Oscar submission committee, changing the group that decides which French film to submit for an international feature film Oscar.

As part of the overhaul, permanent members such as Cannes Film Festival’s general delegate Thierry Fremaux, Cesar Académie president Veronique Cayla and Unifrance boss Serge Toubiana will no longer be part of the committee.

The decree was issued by the newly elected Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak and was published in the Journal Officiel on July 27.

The decision to reform France’s Oscar commission stems from criticism over the submission of films that had premiered at Cannes but didn’t necessarily have the best chances of going far in the Oscar race and ultimately earning a nomination.

Last year’s controversial selection of Julia Ducournau’s divisive Palme d’Or winning “Titane” over Audrey Diwan’s abortion drama “Happening” — which won the Golden Lion at Venice — crystallized frustrations within the local industry and raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest.

Going forward, members of the committee will be named by the culture minister each year and will comprise two sales agents, two producers, two filmmakers and one film industry figure. The presidents of the National Film Board (CNC) and Unifrance will be able to attend the commission meetings as observers.

The last French Oscar submission that went on to win best international feature film was Régis Wargnier’s “Indochine” in 1993.

The CNC previously changed the guidelines for submissions to allow films to have limited, qualifying runs ahead of their official theatrical premiere if they get a temporary visa from CNC. This changed allowed films that are scheduled for release in the winter to be submitted by the Sept. 30 deadline and considered by the Oscar committee.

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