LOS ANGELES – Ibero-American cinema has become a force to be reckoned with, John Bailey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told EFE on Tuesday following the announcement of the nominations for the 2018 Platino Prizes.
“I know this is the fifth year. I wasn’t very aware of the awards before, but ... it is just so clear that the world of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking cinema is getting a much stronger voice in the world and one that needs to be heard,” said Bailey, who collected one of the Platino statuettes awarded to the Academy as an institutional recognition.
Even US media are paying close attention to Latin American film, he said.
As an example, he cited the case of “Una mujer fantastica” (A Fantastic Woman), the winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and nominated in nine categories for Platino Prizes.
Bailey, a cinematographer, said in his remarks that early in his career he worked on the film “Boulevard Nights” (1979), a cult favorite with the Latino public, and that his latest production was “How to Be a Latin Lover” (2017), directed and starred in by Eugenio Derbez, who will be the presenter of the Platino Prizes on April 29 in Mexico’s Riviera Maya resort district.
During the tenure of former president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy two years ago announced a series of changes with the aim of doubling the number of women and people of assorted races within its ranks by 2020.
Bailey, who has been Academy president since last August, said that reaching that goal is fundamental.
“The Academy is very committed to increasing our representation on all ethnic and racial areas that have been underserved and underrepresented,” he said.
“This was a perfect opportunity for me to be able to speak to the whole Ibero-American world of cinema and let them know that the academy is aware and we are committed to achieve a better representation and better honoring Latin cinema,” he added.
Bailey emphasized the importance of the work carried out by the governors of each of the Academy’s departments, who have the mission of continuing to increase diversity in their specific areas.
For example, the Academy welcomed a record 774 new members from 57 countries. Of that number, 39 percent are women and 30 percent are people of color.
“We have one governor now, Gregory Nava, who has been very active in bringing attention to Latino filmmakers, both American Latinos and Latino filmmakers around the world. We are looking in all 17 branches for new members to bring in,” said Bailey, who recalled that he was recently in Madrid to see fellow cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine, a new member of the Academy.
Another new member is Mexican film editor, cinematographer, film director and screenwriter Ernesto Pardo.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to find a lot more,” Bailey said.