LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Film director Jean-Luc Godard will not appear in person to accept an honorary Oscar that some have urged be withdrawn because of views deemed anti-Semitic.
The news announced Monday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences elicited little surprise in Hollywood and came exactly two months after the academy’s invitation to Godard kicked off a lively discussion about the New Wave filmmaker’s alleged anti-Semitism and acknowledged anti-Israel record.
The charges were first examined by the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles and the Forward. The Zionist Organization of America and other critics have pressed for the withdrawal of the award for the French-Swiss director.
Godard was to have been honored at the academy’s Governors Awards dinner in Los Angeles on Nov. 13, but he left the academy hanging for two months regarding whether he would attend. Though an early admirer of Hollywood films, Godard in recent decades has expressed his contempt for the movie capital and harshly attacked director Steven Spielberg.
The academy’s statement announcing Godard’s non-attendance tried to make the best of an embarrassing situation.
“Following a two-month cordial exchange of correspondence with Academy president Tom Sherak, Jean-Luc Godard has regretfully notified Sherak that he will not be able to attend the [award dinner],” the statement opened. " ‘He reiterated his thanks for the award,’ " reported Sherak, " ‘and also sent his good wishes to the other individuals being honored the same night – Kevin Brownlow,Francis Ford Coppola and Eli Wallach – who he refers to as the three other musketeers.’
“The Nov. 13 ceremony will pay tribute to Godard through film clips and commentary by his admirers. The award will be accepted on Godard’s behalf by the Academy and, following the event, the Academy will arrange for the Oscar statuette to be delivered to him in Switzerland.”