Los Angeles: Oscar museum to tackle racism and sexism in cinema

(AFP) – The highly anticipated Los Angeles Oscars Museum will address the “problematic history” of the film industry, from the racism that plagued “Gone with the Wind” to recent controversies over the low representation of women and men. minorities, its officials said on Wednesday.

It took nearly a century for the idea of ​​a museum dedicated to the 7th art to see the light of day and the building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, due to open in 2017, has fallen behind schedule.

But now the buildings are ready and the museum has set its opening for September 2021.

It was actress Laura Dern, winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress last year, who took the invited journalists on a virtual tour of the museum, built in West Los Angeles, on Wednesday.

“We won’t pretend to ignore the problematic story,” the actress promised, citing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy over the lack of black artists, the low presence of women and the way the Academy had treated the actress. black Hattie McDaniel in 1940.

The first black artist to receive an Oscar for her role in “Gone with the Wind”, Hattie McDaniel was unable to attend the film’s premiere due to the color of her skin. During the Oscars ceremony, she was only able to enter the Ambassador Hotel, which practiced racial segregation, after the intervention of the producers and she had to sit at a separate table, away from the other actors of the movie.

The Academy of Oscars will also address the harassment suffered by Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather, who had come in place of Marlon Brando when he refused his Oscar in 1973 to denounce the treatment of natives by the American authorities, or even the fact that European actresses played Chinese characters in “Faces of the East” in 1937.

“We did not want to erase films and artists and moments that could be uncomfortable. We wanted to look them in the face and place them in context, through our permanent exhibition”, explained the director of the museum, Bill Kramer.

The site of more than 4,500 m2 will host relics from Hollywood, such as the slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” or the cape of Dracula. It also has a 1,000-seat cinema room nestled in a gigantic sphere of glass, steel and concrete that stands on the side of the museum.

– “The future of Hollywood” –

Spike Lee and Pedro Almodovar will be among the first directors asked by the museum to organize temporary exhibitions dedicated to other filmmakers.

“I want to see yellow school buses double parked in front of the museum, and these young and beautiful minds to be introduced to the cinema,” said Spike Lee.

In the section devoted to the history of the Oscars, twenty statuettes awarded from silent classics such as “The Dawn” (1927) by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau to recent successes such as “Moonlight” (2016) by Barry Jenkins will be exhibited.

Other galleries will celebrate the work of all the faceless people who make the magic of cinema possible behind the camera: animation specialists, hairdressers, makeup artists, etc.

One section will highlight famous costumes, such as the African-inspired outfit worn by actress Danai Gurira in the iconic film “Black Panther” (2018).

“The presence of Okoye’s uniform (his character, editor’s note) in the Academy museum is incredibly strong because Hollywood history does not resemble the + Black Panther + team”, commented the actress, who says she is hopeful that “Hollywood’s future will look like this”.

The Oscars museum will not open until the health situation linked to the pandemic allows it, but Bill Kramer assured that everything was already ready to welcome the public.

Given the progress in vaccination in California and the drop in the number of Covid-19 cases, the director is confident in the ability to meet the goal of an opening on September 30.

Between now and its inauguration, the Academy museum will organize various virtual events, including a discussion bringing together female artists who have marked the history of the Oscars, such as Sophia Loren, Whoopi Goldberg, Marlee Matlin and Buffy Sainte -Married.

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Los Angeles: Oscar museum to tackle racism and sexism in cinema

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