Jean-Luc Godard, the controversial French-Swiss film director, will not come to Los Angeles to accept an honorary Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday (Oct. 25).
The news 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 auteur’s alleged anti-Semitism and acknowledged anti-Israel record.
The charges were first examined by The Journal in an Oct. 8 cover story, and then by the Forward. The Zionist Organization of America and other critics demanded that the award be withdrawn.
Godard was to have been honored at the Academy’s Governors Awards dinner on Nov. 13, but he let the Academy hanging for two months whether he would attend. Though an early admirer of Hollywood films, in recent decades Godard has freely expressed his contempt for the movie capital and has 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 and continued:
”’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.”