By Didier Allouch, host of Rendez-vous d'Amérique

My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, the white smoke came out of the Centre National de la Cinématographie chimney: Habemus Filmus Oscarum (or something like that). Yes, the French committee has finally decided which movie to send to the Oscars. It will be Les Misérables, the fascinating movie about a riot in French suburbs...

"Movies have always been a form of resistance against the abuse of power."

So far, there are only 3 French-Speaking movies competing in the race for the Best International Film Oscar (Yes, this is what it’s called this year. I guess “Best Foreign Language Film” wasn’t politically correct enough anymore). We have Antigone from Canada, Atlantics from Senegal and Les Misérables. Switzerland chose a movie in German and Belgium, a film in… Spanish.

It’s in the lower average, no conclusions to draw from this number…

What bothers me in the selection process for the Best International Film at the Oscars is not the number of French-speaking movies, it’s the selection process itself.

Each country selects one movie to send to the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences. Every year, the Academy receives about 80 films. They have their own committee that chooses 9 of those films that are shortlisted, and then all the members of the Academy (about 8000 movie professionals) can choose the 5 films that are nominated at the Oscars.

I’m starting to have a problem with the first step in this process.

You see we’re lucky. French-speaking countries are mostly all democratic countries. You can argue on the details, but can argue, so they are democracies. And most of the selection committees in charge of choosing which film competes for Best International Film are government institutions.

In France, the committee has members from CNC, Unifrance, Cannes, etc. Very competent and honest people who listen to everyone and consider every movie…

Same in Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, etc…

But what if they were not?

Unfortunately, we live in a world where populism and extremism are gaining more and more power. And movies have always been a form of resistance against the abuse of power. And one thing is sure, those extremist or populist governments will make everything in their power to stop the export of any movie that challenge them. And certainly not send it to the Oscars…

I know, it’s very sad to think that we’re at this point in our world, and yes, we never thought that the Brazilians, the Hungarians, the British or, yes, the Americans would elect such dangerous characters at the head of their countries. But they did and we have to be extremely careful, we have to protect our freedom of speech. We have to protect the art.

That’s why it may be time to think of another option in order to select the foreign, sorry, the international movies at the Oscars.

I don’t know if any of the Academy members are TV5MONDE subscribers or read this blog, but in any case, if we could help…

To learn more about the France’s selection for the Academy Awards, tune into this week’s episode of Rendez-vous d’Amérique, the tv show on TV5MONDE USA that covers cultural Francophone events throughout the United States.

Click here for more information about the next episode, which also features the Mill Valley Film Festival and Zaz’s U.S. tour.

Featuring film festivals, musical performances, exclusive interviews, and more - Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you on a journey to discover Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face on the red carpet. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE and watch Rendez-vous d'Amérique!

Director Ladj Ly and actor Djibril Zonga take a selfie with fans.
"We have to protect our freedom of speech. We have to protect the art."
Also featured in this week's episode, Zaz performs on a U.S. tour