The Oscars: Industry needs to “erase the lines in the sand”

Words by Rachel Buchanan

Intersectionality, inclusion riders and sign language aren’t the first things that might spring to mind when reflecting on the 90th Academy Awards which took place in Hollywood last night but in a newer reflection of change and inclusion, all three were present in the award winners’ speeches. In fact, there were very few speeches which didn’t mention inclusivity and diversity in some way, including Frances McDormand’s challenge to the “hiring and commissioning practices of a highly exclusive circle of influencers” that diversity in front and behind the camera needed to be more considered.

As the BBC pointed out in its story about how the Oscar’s celebrated diversity, “There was Wes Studi introducing a montage in praise of war films, first in English and then in Cherokee. There was A Fantastic Woman winning the Best Foreign Film prize, and its trans star, Daniela Vega, introducing Sufjan Stevens’ performance of Mystery of Love from Call Me By Your Name. There was a female producer, Darla Anderson, thanking her wife, and a male writer, Adrian Molina, thanking his husband, when they accepted the Best Animated Feature award for Coco, a Disney/Pixar love letter to Mexico. And there was Jordan Peele winning his Oscar for Get Out, making him the first ever African-American to get the Best Original Screenplay prize – and making Get Out the first ever horror movie to get that prize, too.”

Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton won the Best Live Action Short Film for The Silent Child, which tells the story of a four-year-old deaf girl, learning to communicate. Shenton signed her speech, saying: “Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence. It’s not exaggerated or sensationalised for the movie, this is happening, millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers, and particularly, access to education.

“Deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it’s not life-threatening, so I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience.”

Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican director of the merman merman fantasy The Shape of Water won awards for both Best Director and Best Picture, adding to the film’s awards for Original Score and Production Design. In his acceptance speech, he praised the industry for being able to bring people together, suggesting that the industry should “erase the lines in the sand. We should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper”.

Photo caption: Frances McDormand accepts the Oscar® for performance by an actress in a leading role for work on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” during the live ABC Telecast of The 90th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Photographer: Aaron Poole / A.M.P.A.S.