Neon head Tom Quinn opened up about the international submission process for the Academy Awards during this week’s “Screen Talk” podcast.
According to Quinn, the process for how countries submit their films to the Oscars makes “absolutely no sense.” Quinn was a surprise guest at IndieWire’s Screen Talk Live during the 2023 New York Film Festival. The executive told co-hosts Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio that “The Taste of Things” being selected as the official submission from France over Neon-distributed “Anatomy of a Fall” for Best International feature is an example of the pitfalls of a “humiliating” process to submit films in an “Eurovision”-esque competition, with only one movie representing each country.
“Anatomy of a Fall” won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and has screened at Telluride and the New York Film Festival, among other festivals. Trần Anh Hùng’s “The Taste of Things,” starring Juliette Binoche, won the Best Director prize at Cannes; Hùng previously made history as the first Vietnamese nominee for Best Foreign Language Film (what the prize was formerly called) with 1993’s “The Scent of Green Papaya.”
“I think that’s probably two to three podcasts,” Quinn said when asked about his thoughts over the “Anatomy of a Fall” surprise snub. Quinn compared “Anatomy of a Fall” being passed over by France to the experience of Neon film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” also not landing the official French submission for the 2019 Oscars. Instead, “Les Misérables” was submitted and eventually nominated.
“It was the first year that I think they instituted the idea of the American distributors’ top three films that they select in front of seven delegates: Present your case,” Quinn said. Though “Les Misérables,” he said, was “absolutely deserving.”
He continued, “I think it’s a horribly broken process and this is the best version of it, but I also think it’s absolutely completely silly that one film would represent one country. I have to believe that one film should be certified to participate in the overall selection in the international category. But it makes absolutely no sense. This is not ‘Eurovision,’ it’s not one song represents one country.”
Quinn added, “The idea that the Golden Globes somehow has a better process where you could truly put together the five best international films really makes no sense. Fortunately, ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ was nominated as one of the five (at the Globes). But all I can say is I don’t like the process. It feels somewhat humiliating to present your case.”
As for Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall” Oscar chances without gaining the French submission for Best International Feature, Quinn concluded, “We believe that the film is going to be a contender for Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Editor.”
Courtroom crime drama “Anatomy of a Fall” stars Sandra Hüller, who is also a Best Supporting Actress contender for Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest.” Read Hüller’s interview with IndieWire’s Anne Thompson here.