Film Academy: Ang Lee's Oscar Omission Isn't Racist

It is every citizen's right to dash off a silly letter to a newspaper from time to time, and I suppose The Times feels obligated to print a certain percentage of the silly letters that rattle into its mail slot. David R. Moss' hip-shot characterization of the film academy as racist because it failed to nominate Ang Lee as best director (Calendar, Feb. 24) is a classic of the genre.

To be precise about it, "the academy" didn't omit Lee, the academy selected his film as one of the five best films made anywhere in the world last year. The group that couldn't quite fit him into its top five slots was the academy's directors branch, a group of about 300 artists from 20 countries that has collectively made something like 4,000 pictures endorsing tolerance and racial equality, and none inculcating racism.

Lee is himself a member of that branch, and is in fact its only member to have had films nominated for Oscars each of the past three years. If the academy is discriminating against Ang Lee, surely even Moss will have to concede that it's a curious and wondrously subtle form of discrimination, and one that I'd imagine a lot of filmmakers would sell their souls to endure along with him.

BRUCE DAVIS

Executive Director, Academy of

Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Beverly Hills

I want to thank David R. Moss for answering the question why directors are not nominated for their best pictures. If the omission of Ang Lee's nomination for "Sense and Sensibility" was racist by the academy, then the omission of Ron Howard for "Apollo 13" must be racist also, or is that Opieist? Darn! Where's Aunt Bee when you need her?

AUDREY J. LOCKWOOD

Riverside

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