Congratulations to L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein for bitch-slapping the Academy’s Foreign Film Committee for talking only about “the rules, the rules” instead of the reality of modern communication today, and particularly for having disqualified The Band’s Visit, the much-admired Israeli film, because more than 50% of its dialogue is in English.
Academy rules state that for films to qualify for a Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar, the dialogue must be “predominantly in a non-English language.”
Goldstein’s best point is that “if you’re consistently keeping great films out of competition” — which the Academy’s foreign branch has done a lot — “then you must be doing something wrong.
“Why, might you ask, does this Israeli film have so much English in it? For the simple reason that when Egyptians and Israelis find themselves thrown together, guess what language they use to make themselves understood? English, the new mother tongue. In fact, the English spoken in The Band’s Visit is so fractured that all the dialogue in the film, whether Arabic, Hebrew or English, is subtitled. Having seen the film, I’d argue that it’s grotesquely unfair to punish the movie for simply showing how difficult it is for clashing cultures to communicate.”