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Diversity push

Ursula Meier invited to join Oscars film academy

After an outcry over the lack of female and minority members in its ranks, the organisers of the Oscars have invited almost 700 new members to join the organisation, including Swiss film director Ursula Meier.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement late on Wednesday that actors Idris Elba, America Ferrera, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Eva Mendes and this year's Best Actress Oscar winner Brie Larson were among the 683 potential new members.

Swiss film director Ursula Meier, who won the special runner-up Silver Bear award at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival for her film Sister was also selected. Her film was chosen as the Swiss entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards in 2013.

The academy says its new invitees are 46% female, 41% minority and represent 59 countries.

Should all of the invitees accept, the new class would make the academy's overall membership 27% female and 11% non-white, up from 25% and 8%, respectively.

The academy announced changes to its recruitment and voting practices in January after a second straight year of all-white acting nominees for the Academy Awards.

All 20 acting Oscar nominees this year were white for a second consecutive year, prompting criticism with the online hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Oscars host Chris Rock provided biting commentary during the awards show, which was boycotted by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

The largely white, male and older roster of film industry professionals who belong to the academy has long been cited as a barrier to racial and gender equality at the Oscars.

The organisation hopes to double the number of women and minority members by 2020. In March, three new members were added to its board of governors, and six minority members were appointed to other leadership positions.

The academy represents around 6,000 motion picture professionals, most of whom are based in the United States. In the past, their identity and activities have been generally cloaked in secrecy, but the organisation’s stated goal is to “advance the state of arts and sciences of motion pictures”. The academy’s management and policies are overseen by a board of governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches.

Members of the academy are best known for handing out the Oscars every year.

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swissinfo.ch with agencies


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