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Dee Rees Gives What Should’ve Been Her Potential Oscar Speech at the Film Independent Spirit Awards

The Oscars are over, but the mission of inclusion that permeated the ceremony has only just gotten started. One of the evening’s most egregious snubs was that of Dee Rees for Best Director and Mudbound for Best Picture in a race where it seemed like every single other movie was nominated for that category (Seriously, there were a lot of Best Picture nominees this year). Still, we got to see Rees deliver a killer speech when accepting the Robert Altman Award for Mudbound at the Spirit Awards this weekend.

“I know that as independent filmmakers,” Rees begins. “As the so-called rebels, as the outsiders creating without respect to means or access, I know that we, of all makers, are far, far beyond any identity tokenism or snobbery of form in both production and distribution. Because we know that cinema lies not in a strip of celluloid, a length of magnetic tape, nor across the blind plane of an image sensor. No. We know that cinema lies in absorbing electrifying performances by committed actors that make audiences feel. That make them think. That make them observe themselves and the world around them in a more expansive way.”

She then goes on to beautifully compliment everyone involved in the film, from the exquisite actors, to the designers, to the film’s history-making cinematographer, Rachel Morrison.

“And we are grateful for this recognition, for this Robert Altman Award and all that it signifies,” Rees continues. “But we, all of us in this room, broad thinkers that we are, know that this or any other award, evaluation, critique of any artistic work is purely subjective. Is not about the work itself. Is not a meritocracy. Because nothing, nothing diminishes or enhances the value of the work except the work itself. And that’s what we put on screen.”

Rees reminds us that ultimately, awards aren’t important because they mean your work is “better” or “worse” than anyone else’s work. Awards matter, because they mean you’ve been seen and heard, and the goal should always be that more storytellers get seen and heard, no matter where they’re from, or what their circumstances. She closes by thanking everyone who believed in Mudbound enough to put it in front of the world and get it seen.

The choices of what to give a platform, and whose voices to amplify. It’s those decisions, at the beginning of any project, that will determine how inclusive the entertainment industry ultimately is. Here’s hoping Dee Rees continues to get the amplification she so richly deserves.

(via Film Independent on YouTube, image: screencap)

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