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生活 - 专栏

这项奥斯卡奖,一些国家的电影永远评不上

Isaac Feldberg 2019年11月23日

长期以来,“最佳外语片”一直是最具争议的奥斯卡奖项之一。

影片《欢乐》,从左到右:安乌丽卡∙阿尔冯瑟斯,玛利亚∙姆萨努斯,2018年。这部影片无缘参选奥斯卡最佳国际影片奖项。图片来源:NETFLIX / COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

奥斯卡一直以来都是好莱坞的重头戏,亦是电影行业的年度剪影,它将所有的反思、投票和裁决都融入了一场光鲜靓丽、歌舞升平、觥筹交错的盛会。

这场盛会为那些娱乐圈人士提供了一次评估行业健康度、分析流行文化整体趋势的机会。同时,对于那些圈外人士来说,它也为衡量电影行业取得了哪些表征性的进步以及存在哪些令人痛苦的短板,提供了一把实用的标尺。

我们也必须通过这个视角,来审视有关“最佳外语片”不断升级的口水战。长期以来,“最佳外语片”一直是电影艺术与科学学院(奥斯卡主办方,以下简称“学院”)最具争议的奖项之一。

该奖项的名称将在2020年颁奖典礼举办之前发生变化,从“最佳外语影片”调整为“最佳国际影片”。这个变化等于承认了将所有非英语电影称之为“外语”的语言偏见,同时也显得十分随意,因为它对于送选电影的资质没有约束力。跟以前一样,那些之前不符合参选条件(因影片中50%的对白为非英语语言)的电影依然无法参选如今的“最佳国际影片”奥斯卡奖。

奥斯卡在11月11日宣布,由奥地利送选、苏达贝∙摩特扎伊执导的影片《欢乐》(Joy)被取消参选资格,原因在于其对话主要为英语,不符合参选要求。该电影主要讲述了居住在维也纳的尼日利亚籍性工作者,这部时长达101分钟的电影夹杂着皮钦语、英语和德语;但尽管如此,《欢乐》的非英语对话(奥斯卡称,仅有33%的非英语)部分依然不够长。

《欢乐》是今年第二部因为这类原因而被取消参选资格的电影。然而异常尴尬和凑巧的是,第一部遭到除名的是尼日利亚送选的电影《狮心女孩》(Lionheart),它的对白主要是英语,夹杂了一些伊格柏语。这部电影于11月初被取消参选资格的消息在社交媒体上引发了轩然大波。奥斯卡取消《狮心女孩》资格的决定源于尼日利亚的官方语言是英语。电影制作人阿瓦·都弗内问道:“这是否在禁止尼日利亚今后以其官方语言角逐奥斯卡奖?”

“我们无法选择我们的殖民者”

《狮心女孩》的导演基尼威孚·纳吉反对学院做出的这个决定,也就是她的电影不符合参选最佳国际电影的要求。纳吉在推特上指出,她的电影“代表着我们作为尼日利亚人说话的方式”,并将英语描述为其祖国“500多种语言之间的沟通桥梁”。她还说:“这一点与法语在法国各个殖民地所扮演的角色没有区别。我们无法选择我们的殖民者。”

《Deadline》刊登了一则声明,看似意在对这一争议进行澄清,其中,学院的最佳国际影片执行委员会联席主席拉里·卡拉泽斯基称,这一局面“并非是争议,而是误解。”

卡拉泽斯基强调,人们之所以对《狮心女孩》以及如今《欢乐》遭除名的决定表达强烈的不满,原因可能源于一种“误解”,但该类目的要求一直以来都没有变过。他说:“如果你的参选对象是像奥斯卡这样的重量级奖项,我觉得你就应该了解一下规则。”

The Oscars have long been Hollywood’s main event, the film industry’s annual snapshot of itself: reflection, referendum, and reckoning all in one glitzy, over-indulgent, champagne-soaked package.

The ceremony is an opportunity for those working in entertainment to both evaluate the health of the industry and parse the state of popular culture as a whole. And simultaneously, it’s a useful metric for those outside the biz to gauge where the film industry is both making representational strides and coming up painfully short.

It’s through that lens that the ever-raging debate about Best Foreign Language Film, long one of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ most controversial categories, must be considered.

The category will undergo a name change ahead of the 2020 ceremony, becoming “Best International Feature Film” instead of “Best Foreign-Language Film.” That shift, while acknowledging the linguistic bias of declaring all non-English films to be “foreign,” is arbitrary in that it has no impact on the requirements for submitted films. As before, movies that previously wouldn’t have qualified—due to less than 50% of their dialogue being in a language other than English—remain ineligible for what’s now the Best International Feature Film Oscar.

On November 11, the Academy announced that Sudabeh Mortezai’s Joy, Austria’s submission to the category, had been disqualified for not meeting eligibility requirements related to its dialogue being predominantly in English. The film, which centers on Nigerian sex workers living in Vienna, mixes Pidgin, English, and German throughout its 101-minute runtime; but despite this, not enough of Joy (only 33% of it, by the Academy’s measurement) uses non-English dialogue.

Joy’s the second international title to be deemed ineligible on such grounds this year; the first, in a mightly cringeworthy coincidence, was Nigeria’s submission, Lionheart, which is primarily in English with some dialogue in Igbo. When the title was deemed ineligible at early November, dashing Nigeria’s first-ever bid to compete at the Oscars, it set off a fierce debate on social media. Complicating the Academy’s decision to disqualify Lionheart is that Nigeria’s official language is English. “Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?” asked filmmaker Ava DuVernay on Twitter.

“We did not choose who colonized us”

Lionheart’s director, Geneviveve Nnaji, protested the Academy’s conclusion that her film cannot qualify for Best International Feature Film. Nnaji opined (via Twitter) that her film “represents the way we speak as Nigerians,” depicting English as “a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken” in her country. “It’s not different to how French connects communities in former French colonies,” she added. “We did not choose who colonized us.”

In a statement to Deadline ostensibly aimed at clearing up the controversy, the Academy’s International Feature Film executive committee co-chair Larry Karaszewski said that the situation was “less of a controversy, and more of a misunderstanding.”

Karaszewski stressed that there may have been a “misconception” that led to outcry around the decision to bar Lionheart and now Joy, but that the requirements for the category are the same as they were. “If you’re submitting for something as important as an Academy Award,” he said, “I would think you should look at the rules.”

基尼威孚·纳吉在《狮心女孩》中,这部尼日利亚电影无缘奥斯卡最佳国际影片奖项。图片来源:NETFLIX / COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

但正是在研究规则之后,人们会发现纳吉和都弗内的观点非常有说服力。按照《狮心女孩》失去参选资格的逻辑来看,其他的英属殖民地,例如加纳、圭亚那、赞比亚和肯尼亚等普遍说英语的国家同样也无法入围该奖项的评选。奥斯卡当前的准则并未考虑殖民主义对这些国家持续影响的复杂性,也没有充分反映出对这些多语言国家日常生活的认知。它违反了当前语言要求的随意性特征,也就是如果某个国家被法国或西班牙殖民过,那么这个国家拍摄的电影就会使用法语或西班牙语,而这类电影会被当作一部国际电影;如果拍摄电影的国家曾经是英国的殖民地,荧幕上出现的自然就会是英语,但却不会被视为国际影片。

更为糟糕的是,奥斯卡适用的语言要求规定,如果像尼日利亚这样的国家希望获得最佳国际影片的参选资格,那么其制作人上必须在表述行为上“外国化”,也就是以一种不反映这些国家生活、对于好莱坞大咖们来说可能看起来更真实的方式,夸大非洲语言的日常重要性。

尽管这个教训引发了广泛的疑问,但其潜台词确实如卡拉泽斯基所说的那样,是一个基础性的误解,只不过被误解的是学院,而不是电影制造商。

在学院当前遇到的语言规则窘境中,其焦点指向了一个过时的主张:英语是美国影业的专属语言,所有其他语言实际上被看作在美国海外使用的“其他”语言。按照这个还原性的解读,其他国家拍摄的电影从历史上便不同于美国本土电影,并组成一个“外国”语言团体。但它们并非是时代的主流,因为挑战最佳外语影片参选资质要求的电影的数量便证明了这一点。此外,奖项名称的变化(从“外语”变为“国际”)意味着奥斯卡意识到了该类目由来已久的问题。

但对于这个奖项存在的结构性问题来说,名称的改变只不过是治标不治本的做法,而且必然会带来更多的问题,因为它变相地在说其他类目的电影均源自美国,但实际上并非这样。

影业的日益全球化

以《别告诉她》(The Farewell)为例。这部备受推崇的独立电影讲述了一位由美国人抚养长大的女士(演员奥卡菲娜扮演)来到了中国,为的是向其病危的祖母道别。这部电影基于作者-导演、美籍华人王子逸的真实故事,它使用的是中文对白英文字幕,不过影片主角也说英语。由于它是一部美国电影,因此无法参选奥斯卡最佳国际影片,但它亦无法角逐金球奖的最佳音乐剧/喜剧奖。原因何在?它是一部外语影片。

如今,《别告诉她》、《欢乐》和《狮心女孩》可能有机会角逐最佳影片奖。然而,鉴于好莱坞以美国和英语为重心的历史体制,小制作国际影片在提名大战中胜出的可能性很小。最佳外语片/国际影片类目于20世纪50年代设立,其初衷是凸显全球影业未被充分代表的声音,从而让国际电影制作人在奥斯卡获得一席之地,并了解学院成员对于美国本土电影的期许,从而加以效仿。

但该奖项一直都是一个怪异、笨拙的野兽,仅依靠每个国家选送一部电影进行评选。正因为如此,这个类目最终变成了国际影业的奥运会。尽管这个构架可能曾经还算合理,但即便只是粗略地看一下奥斯卡当前的电影格局,人们也会发现它已经变得不食人间烟火。每年有数百部国际电影在美国上映,而且其中很多都来自于影业大国,例如法国和中国。

限制这些国家每年仅提交一部电影参选奥斯卡也让社会政治问题成为了电影送选的考量因素。例如最近法国决定送选导演拉德·利的《悲惨世界》(Les Misérables),而不是瑟琳·席安玛备受赞誉的同志恋情电影《燃烧女子的肖像》(Portrait of a Lady on Fire)。不过,拥有大量美国本土背景的国际影片并非没有角逐最佳影片的机会。去年,阿方索·卡隆的《罗马》(Roma)被誉为Netflix的首要拿奖利器,并成为了最佳影片的有利角逐者,共计拿到了10项提名(与2000年的《卧虎藏龙》打成平手,成为了奥斯卡史上获提名次数最多的非英语电影)。这部黑白画面电影使用的是西班牙语和米斯特克语对白,为它的导演赢得了属于导演自己的奖项,并借此成为了首部获奥斯卡最佳导演奖的非英语电影。

就在过去的一个月,由奉俊昊执导、Neon发布的韩国电影《寄生虫》(Parasite)在美国取得了不俗的票房(正在向《摩托车日记》庞大的票房迈进,预测其本土票房将达到2500万美元);同期,佩德罗·阿莫多瓦的西班牙语电影《痛苦与荣耀》(Pain and Glory)的小范围上映亦取得了不错的成绩,这些都意味着国际电影的竞争舞台发生了变化。这两部电影是近几周小众电影票房取得的最大成功,但依然不敌《燃烧女子的肖像》。得益于Neon老练的营销策略,这部电影已经深入各大电影节和社交媒体。上述影片也展示了美国观众对非英语电影的接受度和支持度。不久之前,电影《别告诉她》和中国热门影片《江湖儿女》亦享受了类似的待遇。

电影界的国际化程度已然大幅提升,其实需要与时俱进的是学院。尽管最佳外语片类目声称仅评选非英语影片,但长期以来却因为不怎么明显但麻烦不断的歧视倾向而备受诟病。该类目大部分赢家都来自于欧洲国家(共计68个,其中57个来自于欧洲),这一事实指向了一个根深蒂固的问题:欧洲中心主义倾向,也就是对全球大量的参选作品视而不见。像《狮心女孩》这样的非洲电影基本上没有拿过奥斯卡奖,仅有三部在奥斯卡史上获得了最佳外语片奖。

变革的先驱

对学院最常见的一种批评是:这个机构已经落伍了。在过去,该学院一直在努力改变人们的这种看法,甚至还提出了设立“最受欢迎影片”奖项,但这个短命的创意泄露了学院愚笨的意愿:想接地气,却又不愿意对现行做法进行深层次的结构性改革。

然而,如何系统性地解决最佳外语片这个问题不能仅靠更改奖项名称。学院抛弃以往“外国”影片异国化策略的做法有其既得利益,而且以何种方式来确保电影能够合理地反映出某个国家的特定文化和语言传统应该交由电影拍摄国来决定,而不是远在千里之外的学院成员。

我们不妨看一下,#OscarsSoWhite(奥斯卡太白——译者注)运动促使学院开始了迟来已久的成员多元化进程。还记得吗,奥斯卡颁奖仪式的多次发言都提到了反性骚扰运动#MeToo和反性侵运动#TimesUp,而且这些发言的其分量不亚于获提名的表演;还记得吗,弗兰西斯·麦克多蒙德让人们开始关注“inclusion riders”合同条款,并借此机会鼓励电影行业女性为公平薪酬而斗争。

学院十分重视自身作为全行业变革先驱的声誉,而且作为好莱坞在全球其他地区最公开的外延形式,它有权以此自居。然而,除非好莱坞可以否认“英语属于美国的专属电影语言”以及“定义国家文化的是其语言而不是历史”这些理念,那么学院则面临着与全球电影制作人和观众疏远的风险。与此同时,随着电影界的政治(和经济)逐渐远离西方理念独大的现象,似乎最有可能掉队的并非是大众,而是学院本身。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

But it’s precisely by looking at the rules that Nnaji and DuVernay have made their compelling point. The same logic that excludes Lionheart from contention this year would seem to similarly disqualify entries from other British colonies like Ghana, Guyana, Zambia, and Kenya, among other countries where English is widely spoken. Under the Academy’s current guidelines, the complexity of colonialism’s lasting legacy in these countries is not taken into account, nor is any recognition of everyday life in such multilingual countries adequately reflected. It betrays the arbitrary nature of the current linguistic requirements that, if a country were colonized by France or Spain and thus a film from it used French or Spanish, it would be considered an international title; not so if the country of the film in question was colonized by the English, leading English language to be depicted on screen.

Even worse, the Academy’s standing language requirement suggests that, for a country like Nigeria to qualify in Best International Feature Film, its filmmakers must performatively “play foreign,” exaggerating the everyday prominence of African languages in a way that’s not reflective of life in those countries but might appear more authentic to Hollywood elite.

As wildly problematic as that takeaway would be, its implications do, as Karaszewski points out, betray a fundamental misunderstanding—but on the Academy’s part rather than that of the filmmakers.

At the heart of the Academy’s current predicament over language requirements is an outdated assertion that English belongs exclusively to American cinema, with all other languages essentially coded as an “other” spoken beyond U.S. borders. From that reductive point of view, films hailing from other countries could historically be considered as distinct from domestic entries, grouped in their reliance on a “foreign” language. But that’s just not the tenor of the times, and the number of movies challenging the Academy’s eligibility requirements for this category proves as much. Furthermore, the name-change, from “foreign” to “international,” suggests that the Academy’s aware of this category’s long-standing issues.

But it’s a superficial fix to a structural problem with the category, and one that promises to further create issues with its insinuation that the other categories involve films specifically rooted in the United States, which is not the case.

A more globalized cinema

Take The Farewell for instance. The acclaimed indie drama follows an American-raised woman (Awkwafina) who travels to China in order to say goodbye to her terminally ill grandmother. Based on the real-life experiences of writer-director Lulu Wang, who is Chinese-American, The Farewell is told primarily in Mandarin with English subtitles, though its protagonist also speaks English. Though ineligible for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars because it’s an American production, the title’s also barred from competing for Best Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes. Their rationale? It’s a foreign-language film.

While The Farewell, Joy, and Lionheart could conceivably now qualify for Best Picture, the uphill battles small international films face to land a nomination there are rarely won, given Hollywood’s history as an American-English-centric institution. The very existence of the Best Foreign Film/International Feature Film category, created in the 1950s, was intended to highlight under-represented voices in world cinema, giving international filmmakers a seat at the table with the understanding Academy members typically gravitates toward movies that are made in their own backyard and sound like it.

But it’s always been a strange, unwieldy beast, relying on countries to submit only one title apiece for consideration and essentially turning the category in an Olympics of international cinema. While that structure may have once made sense, even a cursory glance around at the movie landscape indicates that it’s out of touch. Hundreds of international films premiere in the United States each year, many from the same powerhouse countries, like France and China.

Limiting those countries to one pick a year at the Oscars has opened up cans of sociopolitical worms, most recently with France’s decision to submit Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables over Celine Sciamma’s acclaimed queer romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire. And it’s not like international films with sufficient stateside backing don’t have a shot at Best Picture contention. Last year, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, touted as Netflix’s major awards vehicle, was a frontrunner for Best Picture and received 10 overall nominations (tied with 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as the most ever for a non-English film). Told in Spanish and Mixtec, the black-and-white period piece won its director a trophy his own, becoming the first non-English film to win in the Best Director category.

And just in the past month, the stateside box-office success of Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean-made, Neon-released Parasite (on track for huge Motorcycle Diaries numbers in the realm of a projected $25 million haul domestically), coupled with solid results for Pedro Almodovar’s Spanish-language Pain and Glory in a smaller release, indicate the changed state of play for international titles. Those two are the biggest success stories at the specialty box office in recent weeks, but still ahead is Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a film already embraced on the festival circuit and via social media, thanks to a savvy marketing campaign by Neon. These films demonstrate how U.S. audiences can embrace and champion non-English films; looking slightly further back, the same can be said of The Farewell and Chinese hit Ash is Purest White.

It’s this radically more globalized cinema that the Academy must catch up to. While professing to consider only films not in the English language, its Best Foreign Film category has long fallen prey to slightly less obvious but nevertheless problematic biases. That the vast majority of winners in the category have hailed from European countries (57 out of a total 68 winners) points to one ingrained problem: a tendency toward Eurocentrism, overlooking contenders from huge swaths of the world. African films like Lionheart barely ever win at the Oscars; only three have triumphed in Best Foreign Film in the awards ceremony’s history.

A harbinger of change

One of the criticisms most frequently levied at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is that it is behind the times. In the past, the Academy’s struggled to overcome that perception. It even went so far as to propose a “Popular Film” category, a short-lived idea that betrayed the Academy’s clumsy desire to reach the masses without making deeper, structural changes to its modus operandi.

But questions of how it can address the issues systemic to Best International Feature Film cannot be cleared up with a mere title change. The Academy has a vested interest in dispensing with its past exoticization of “foreign” titles and finding ways to ensure the notion of whether a film properly reflects its country’s specific cultural and linguistic traditions is decided by that country, not Academy members thousands of miles away.

Consider how #OscarsSoWhite galvanized the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to begin the long-overdue work of diversifying its membership. Remember how the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have continually spilled out onto the awards-ceremony stage in a number of speeches as powerful as some of the nominated performances, how Frances McDormand brought attention to “inclusion riders” and in the same breath championed women fighting for pay equity in the industry.

The Academy values its reputation as a harbinger for industry-wide change. And as Hollywood’s most public extension to the rest of the world, it’s right to. But until it can disavow itself of the notion that the English language alone belongs to Americans, and that language is a definition of a country’s culture rather than a condition of its history, the Academy risks alienating filmmakers and audiences around the world. And as the politics (and economics) of cinema shift increasingly away from an exclusively Western point of view, it is not those masses but rather the Academy itself that seems most likely to be left behind.

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