When asking about the Academy’s short-sighted decision to award four Oscars during the commercial breaks this year (and then airing a possibly condensed version of the winner’s speech later in the telecast), Guy Nattiv chooses his words carefully. He’s obviously disappointed, but it’s also apparent he doesn’t want to let all this affect him too much. After all, this is his first Oscar nomination and, right now, he should be having the time of his life. But, as someone actually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for his work on Skin, the Academy’s decision does directly affect him.
“You know, it’s so fresh. I was in Berlin and just got the news about the whole nomination thing. I didn’t even digest that,” Nattiv told Uproxx. “I mean, yes, it’s all part of the journey. Of course, that being said, cinematography and editing, cinema doesn’t exist without that. I think it’s absurd, but I’m so still so honored.”
Since the Academy’s announcement that four categories would be awarded during commercial breaks – cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and Nattiv’s category, live-action short – the response has been critical and swift. Numerous filmmakers have come out in opposition to the Academy’s decision.
“It’s important and I’m so grateful for their support,” says Nattiv. As we were speaking, Regina King, this year’s front runner for Best Supporting Actress for her work in If Beale Street Could Talk, made her dissent known.
I don’t like it. I don’t think that’s a cool deal. I’m an artist so I believe we’ve all worked really hard, we’ve nurtured our gifts and we should all be able to celebrate them with the world,” says Regina King, a nominee for best supporting actress. “It just doesn’t seem like 15 minutes is gonna make that big of a difference.”
After seeing that quote, Nattiv responded, “I’m going to see Regina King at a party soon and I’m going to thank her personally. I totally agree with her. What a quote. The support is amazing.”
This isn’t to say that the Academy’s controversial decision is completely getting in the way of Nattiv enjoying his Oscars experience, “We were at the event where all the nominees are doing this photo I’m standing there looking at my wife on the other side – they separate you – and I’m looking at her, telling her, ‘What? Are we here? Am I really a small part of these people?’ Then Laura Dern read our names. It was surreal.”
What’s also a bit surreal about this whole experience is just the circumstances surrounding the film he’s nominated for, Skin. It was meant to be a feature-length film, but he couldn’t get funding because their film about a Midwestern white supremacist who starts an altercation with a black man at a grocery store, made by Israeli filmmakers, wasn’t drawing a lot of interest, at least initially. Then things changed. As Nattiv puts it, “Then Trump gets elected and Charlottesville happens.”
While waiting to get funding for the feature-length film, Nattiv and his wife, Jaime Ray Newman, decided to make a short film version. What’s unusual about all this is, as we speak, the full feature-length version is finished. It premiered back at the Toronto Film Festival and is going to be released later this year by A24. And it’s not unusual for short films to become feature-length films (Whiplash is one of many examples), but it is a little unusual to have the short film nominated for an Academy Award the same year that the feature-length film is to be released.
Nattiv sums this all up, “Every film has a life of his own. I call it the kite effect. The kite takes you wherever it takes you.”
But, for Nattiv, he remains passionate about short films and the power they can have, especially today where they can be easily digested at home or on a moble device. He didn’t correlate his feelings directly in response to the Academy’s decision to relegate this award to a commercial break, but there was little doubt where his passion was directed.
“I think short films, now that we can have them online, they’ve become even more strong and more powerful than any other years,” says Nattiv. “People can watch short films! It’s only 15 or 20 minutes. A young filmmaker from Wyoming, or a girl from Syria from a refugee camp, or from China, or from Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem, can make short films today without a lot of budget and can send it to the world.”
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.