Mads Mikkelsen and The Promised Land director Nikolaj Arcel were confronted by a reporter about the “lack of diversity” on screen and how it could affect their possibilities of getting nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
During a Q&A session at the Venice Film Festival, a reporter brought up the subject of films needing to meet certain criteria in order to be considered for the top award of the night at the Academy Awards.
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“This is a cast and Danish production that’s entirely Nordic, and, therefore, has some lack of diversity, you would say,” the reporter asked. “There’s also new rules implied in Hollywood…”
Mikkelsen interjected by asking, “What are you on to? From the get-go?”
The new inclusion standards are set to go into effect starting with the upcoming 96th Oscars in 2024. The initiative centers around on-screen representation as well as creative leadership. Two of the four standards would have to be met in order for a film to be considered for the Best Picture category.
“From the get-go. There are some rules of diversity across the Atlantic for competing in the Best Picture [category], the equivalent of this competition. As I see, you don’t live up to these standards with this cast,” the reporter continued. “I’m just curious: It’s not because of artistic reasons, it’s because of a lack of diversity, that this can’t compete in that competition. Are you worried about it?”
Mikkelsen fired back at the reporter, “Are you? I’m serious and honest, because you’re putting us on the spot, so you answer the question.”
The director stepped in and noted that the film does feature a character of color adding, “Well, first of all, the film takes place in Denmark in the 1750s. We do have a big plotline about a girl of color who is being subjected to racism, which was very rare, any people of color in Denmark… almost nobody. She was probably at the time the only one in the entire country of Denmark.”
“I think it would be a little weird,” he added. “It’s just historical — how it was in the 1750s.”
The Promised Land could still qualify for the Best Picture category at the Oscars by fulfilling two of the other three standards. If the team behind the film had people from underrepresented groups in leadership positions, they would meet Standard B. Standard C centers on industry access and opportunities and Standard D on audience development which can be achieved if the studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from underrepresented groups.
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