Oscar officials are reviewing complaints that the recent winner of the short-film documentary award, “Mighty Times: The Children’s March,” misled judges about reenactments in the movie, an Academy Award spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The flap arose shortly after the Feb. 27 awards show when Steven Kalafer, another filmmaker competing for the same Oscar, wrote to the Academy to complain that the winners had failed to disclose they had used reenactments.
Rules at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out the Oscars, allow documentaries with reenactments to compete for Oscars, so the award would not be taken from director Bobby Houston and producer Robert Hudson.
However, the motion picture academy could change the rules in the future based on their findings, a spokeswoman said.
“We’re looking into claims people have made and questions people have asked,” said spokeswoman Leslie Unger. “The (documentary) committee will meet to reevaluate results and determine if they feel changes of some kind are warranted.”
She said committee members of various branches of the Academy routinely meet to review rules, and that the documentary group would likely get together this spring.
“The Children’s March” recounted civil rights protests by thousands of children in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, and recreated some scenes using old cameras and film stock to replicate the look of film shot 40 years ago.
Scene reenactments are not new to documentary filmmaking and are often used to demonstrate real-life events that were never filmed or for which footage was lost.
New Jersey-based filmmaker Kalafer, whose “Sister Rose’s Passion” competed for the short documentary Oscar, told the New York Times he had complained after the awards because doing it beforehand would have appeared “calculated and unseemly.”
In the same New York Times story, Houston denied he and his partner misled Academy voters and said, “The people that vote on our films are our peers, and these people have seen reenactments for 20 years plus.”
Houston and Hudson said they have often used reenactments in their past work. The filmmakers and Kalafer could not immediately be reached for comment.