Ben Proudfoot’s quick documentary is headed to the Oscars, and so is he — within the midst of pandemic-related upheaval within the trade and a significant shift in how award exhibits join with their company and audiences.
The Halifax director is nominated alongside co-director Kris Bowers for A Concerto is a Dialog, their 13-minute characteristic about Bowers’s grandfather, Horace Bowers, and the discrimination he confronted as he escaped the Jim Crow South.
And whereas the movie noticed early success after debuting via the New York Occasions’ Op-Docs collection in November, Proudfoot says selling the movie was a problem. Regardless of attending digital occasions and festivals, the Oscars would be the first stay occasion Proudfoot has attended in additional than a yr.
He mentioned that makes him really feel very grateful to lastly have the chance to rejoice the undertaking in particular person.
“This was a troublesome yr for me,” Proudfoot mentioned in an interview with CBC Information. “My dad handed away in Could, and with the pandemic … it has been tough for each human being on the face of the Earth.
“It has been a really darkish yr, and this has simply been a ray of sunshine into my life.”
Proudfoot will likely be amongst a restricted variety of in-person company at this yr’s Academy Awards, a host-less, three-hour-long present that requires a “rigorous protocol,” he mentioned. That features a number of COVID-19 exams within the weeks main as much as the ceremony, and one on the day itself.
However precisely what the Oscars will appear like on Sunday evening stays a thriller, even to Proudfoot.
Producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh have revealed just some particulars of what the present will entail. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the three mentioned all company at L.A.’s Union Station will likely be supplied with masks, although it is nonetheless unsure whether or not attendees will likely be required to put on them.
Award winners will likely be given an extended time to present speeches than in years previous, and the purple carpet is being exchanged for a casual gathering of the nominees and their company.
“I do not assume anybody goes to acknowledge the Academy Awards this yr,” Proudfoot mentioned, “as it is going to be very completely different from an Academy Awards we have seen up to now.”
Scores in free fall
The adjustments come at a difficult time for award exhibits basically. Even earlier than COVID-19 compelled them to alter their format, rankings have been plummeting. Each the Grammys and the Golden Globes noticed drops of greater than 60 per cent between their 2020 and 2021 exhibits. Scores for the Oscars dropped by almost half from 2010 to 2020.
This yr, that decline may very well be compounded by the pandemic. Because of theatre closures, big-name options such because the James Bond instalment No Time to Die, Dune and Marvel’s Black Widow pushed their releases from 2020 into 2021. That is left the Oscars with extra understated films to honour, which may draw an excellent smaller viewers.
Nonetheless, Proudfoot says he is glad the present determined to go forward as an alternative of cancelling as some critics instructed it ought to.
The chance to rejoice successes is essential, he mentioned — each for the trade at giant, and for people pursuing their objectives in a tough yr.
“We have all been cooped up this yr with not a number of hope or issues to be enthusiastic about to rejoice. And that is type of the last word factor to rejoice.”