The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the annual Academy Awards, has offered membership to cameraman Vladimír Smutný, animator Daria Kashcheeva and artist Nora Sopková.
Overall, the institution offered membership to 819 creators from 68 countries, as every filmmaker who participated in an Oscar-nominated film receives an invitation to join the Academy.
The first Czech invited, Vladimír Smutný, is a cinematographer who shot Painted Bird by director Václav Marhoul. The movie, which was a dream of Marhoul for more than a decade, made it to an Oscar shortlist of the ten best foreign films. The American Academy also commemorated Smutný’s work on the Oscar-winning movie Kolja by director Jan Svěrák in 1996.
Smutný said that he is not yet a member of the Academy because he had not submitted the appropriate paperwork. Once he does, he will be able to speak of his link to the most prestigious film awards in world.
An animator and student at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), Daria Kashcheeva was nominated for an Oscar for her short animated film Daughter, which did not advance to the finals but received awards at many major foreign festivals.
“We are proud that for the first time in our history, our film school has a student who is a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” noted FAMU spokeswoman Alexandra Hroncová.
“Unfortunately, membership in the academy does not automatically mean the possibility to participate in the voting for the Oscars. It is necessary to pay an annual fee of $750, which is not a negligible amount. Therefore, we are now looking for a partner for Darja who could help her with this issue,” added Hroncová.
The last Czech invited to join this year was artist Nora Sopková who was nominated for an Oscar together with New Zealander Raem Vincent for the scenography of Jojo Rabbit. However, Sopková said that she had decided not to respond to the academy’s offer.
Czech footprints within the Academy
This year, the documentary filmmaker Helena Třeštíková, who received an invitation to the Academy last year, took part in deciding on the Oscars. “But I chose only documentaries because voting on all the films also means seeing all of them,” explained Třeštíková.
Oscar-winning directors Miloš Forman, Jiří Menzel, and costume designer Theodor Pištěk have joined the prestigious club in the past.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has more than 8,000 members, with about 2,000 added in the last three years alone.
Facing criticism for associating predominantly white men, the organization has paid more attention to the percentage of women and ethnic minorities in recent years. Of the people invited this year, 45 percent are women and 36 percent belong to ethnic minorities. Almost half of the invited creators are not from the US.
Title image: A view of the stage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)