Variety reports that acclaimed indie producer (Far From Heaven, Boys Don't Cry) and Killer Films chief Christine Vachon is one of many voices in the film community speaking out against the Motion Picture Association of America's recent ban on sending screener tapes and DVDs to voters for the Academy Awards and other year-end film awards. While the MPAA claims that the move is intended to combat piracy, many in the industry see the ban as a way to give major studios the edge over independent companies by forcing voters to see films in theaters. Observers say that films like Roman Polanski's The Pianist, Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her, and Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't Cry would not have taken home Oscars were it not for the opportunity for Academy viewers--many of whom are older and prefer watching films at home--to see the movies on video.
"This is such a smokescreen," said Vachon, a lesbian, in part of a statement released Wednesday by the Independent Feature Project. "It's clear people are getting pissed that every year the independents are getting the lion's share of the recognition. There's not a doubt in my mind that the bigger issue here is to refocus attention on big studio movies.... I'm somebody who made it all the way, I've been able to be in the game largely because of screeners. There are places where Academy members live where my movies don't even get to. For some of the smaller releases, this is really elitist. It's saying, 'If you don't live in New York or L.A., too bad for you.'" Vachon also noted, "The bottom line is, one of the reasons companies like Killer attract big talent [is] because there's a possibility of being able to jump into the Oscar race. If you take that away from us, for some of these movies you're taking away their only hope of being made. I think it's devastating."