France’s Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak has appointed a seven-person committee proposed by Dominique Boutonnat, president of French film board CNC. They include composer Alexandre Desplat, whose 11 Oscar nominations have led to two wins for “The Shape of Water” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; former Lionsgate executive and producer Patrick Wachsberger, Oscar winner for “CODA”; and two-time Cesar winning producer Charles Gillibert (“Mustang,” “M”).
The committee also includes Olivier Assayas, Cannes best director winner for “Personal Shopper”; Mounia Meddour, Cesar winner for “Papicha”; Sabine Chemaly, executive VP, international distribution, TF1 Studio; and Tanja Meissner, former head of international sales at Memento Films International.
Members of the committee will will meet twice, in the presence of Boutonnat and Gilles Pélisson president of film promotion body Unifrance, both of whom have observer status without voting rights. On Sept. 13, the committee will arrive at a pre-selection of three to five films. On Sept. 21, it will meet the producers and sales agents and, if necessary, the American distributor (remotely) of each film, before making their final choice.
The French Oscar committee has been overhauled twice in recent years. The most recent one, in 2022, stemmed from criticism over the submission of films that had premiered at Cannes but didn’t necessarily have the best chances of going far in the Oscar race and ultimately earning a nomination.
The controversial selection of Julia Ducournau’s divisive Palme d’Or winning “Titane” in 2021 over Audrey Diwan’s abortion drama “Happening” — which won the Golden Lion at Venice — crystallized frustrations within the local industry and raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest.
The last French Oscar submission that went on to win the category was Régis Wargnier’s “Indochine” in 1993.
Nominees of each country have to be submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by Oct. 2. A shortlist of 15 will be announced on Dec. 21. Final nominees will be announced on Jan. 23, 2024. The Oscars will take place on March 10, 2024.