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Belarusian ‘Oscar Committee’ does exist. Crystal Swan's nomination pending

Photo: Reuters

The Internet exploded on July 1: Belarus is nominating Darya Zhuk’s Crystal Swan for the 2018 Oscars. It was announced at a film festival in Karlovy Vary where the film had been shown a bit earlier.

Who has nominated this film for the Oscar? How? Nothing was explained. Journalists and Belarusians involved the movie business started phoning the Ministry of Culture, Belarusfilm and the Belarusian Union of Filmmakers but all was in vain.

Why has the so-called Oscar Committee been created secretly?

Belarusian dramatist, filmmaker and script writer Andrei Kureichyk also joined the search for the mysterious Oscar Committee. However, his connections did not help.

“It has not been officially confirmed whether Crystal Swan is part of some Oscar programme of foreign films,” Kureichyk said. “I think that a group of people gathered and announced themselves to be the Oscar Committee. Then they nominated the film for the Oscar. It is not bad since the film does exist and it was presented at a serious festival in Karlovy Vary. The very fact that such a good film exists and may be added on the long or short list of the Oscars is a good thing.”

However, why was the so-called Oscar Committee created secretly? Who is the founder? It should not be created for only one film. It is supposed to have been nominating Belarusian films for many years. It is some Masonic lodge?”

7 days in cinemas, all producers’ consent is required

To be nominated for the Academy Awards, a film should be in its country’s cinemas for at least 7 days. If it is a joint work of several countries, all the countries’ Oscar Committees should give their consent before it is nominated as a film made in one of the states.

Crystal Swan was shot in Belarus. However, American, German and Russian companies participated in the process. It means that three consents are required…

As for Belarusian cinema houses, the film will be shown there. But it will happen later. It will be presented in Belarus on August 30 which means that Crystal Swan cannot be nominated for the Oscars.

“Filmmakers are often impatient; we had to tell them something”

“Pavel Latushka (former Minister of Culture, current Belarusian Ambassador to France - Euroradio) wanted to create the Oscar Committee in 2009. It was probably not created back then. Or it has been a secret for 10 years which seems surrealistic to me,” Andrei Kureichyk continues.

Artistic director of Belarusfilm Ihar Porshneu has clarified everything. The good news is that the Oscar Committee does exist. The bad news is that Crystal Swan has not been nominated for the Oscars yet.

“The information is not fully true since the film has not been nominated yet,” Porshneu told Euroradio. “Filmmakers are often impatient and we had to tell them something. The film was selected for the festival in Karlovy Vary and they announced that Belarus would nominate [Crystal Swan] for [the Oscars]. Members of our Oscar Committee watched the film and decided that it was good enough to represent Belarus there. We are preparing the needed documents now. We had to start doing it someday anyway.”  

Darya Zhuk has brought the documents needed to restore the Oscar Committee to Belarusfilm herself.

The Oscar Committee was created in Belarus in the 1990s. Two films were nominated for the Oscars since then: Belarus-France I am Ivan, you are Ambram by Iolanda Zoberman in 1994 and Russia-Belarus-Germany From Hell to Hell by Zmitser Astrahan in 1996.

“According to the Academy rules, if a country does not nominate anything for 5 years, its Oscar Committee gets automatically closed down. Belarus has not nominated any film for 15 years. When I took the position there was nothing to nominate. Then this girl who studied in America started shooting Crystal Swan. I asked her what was needed to restore the committee and she brought all the necessary documents. We filled them in and got permission to nominate a Belarusian film in March.”

Thus, the Belarusian Oscar Committee has been restored. Ihar Proshneu has refused to name its members. However, since nobody knows anything about the Oscar Committee, there are probably no independent film critics in it.