American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 12

PRESIDENT'S DESK
There was once an era in Hollywood filmmaking that uplifted the underdog, that cherished the
right thing, that celebrated justice. The narratives of these classic movies reflected a culture of
freedom. They addressed civil rights, social injustice, and the challenges that must be overcome
when the law moves in the wrong direction. We were glued to the words and actions of Atticus
Finch (Gregory Peck) in To Kill a Mockingbird, and fascinated by James Stewart's Jefferson Smith
in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Decades later, the same spirit found us swept away by Erin
Brockovich's story of an individual fighting a powerful energy company, and moved by Robert
Redford's performance as Tom Logan in Legal Eagles, devoted as he was to the presumption of
innocence, the notion that "one is presumed innocent until proven guilty."
At the height of this bygone era, we were kept informed about industry news on a daily
basis by trade publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. There were also the popular
movie columnists of the day, including Louella Parsons and the legendary gossiper Hedda Hopper.
Hopper, for one, proved that the pen could indeed be mightier than the sword, as she used her
column to name suspected communists and ruin careers - including those of great writers like Dalton Trumbo - during
the McCarthy era.
I was contemplating all of this on a recent spring afternoon, trying to comprehend the wave of negative press levied
against our Society member - and president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - John Bailey in the
wake of a leaked sexual-harassment allegation. After Variety reported that "the Academy received three harassment
claims," citing "sources familiar with the situation," John was quickly put on public trial. The purported allegations were
widely accepted as gospel by the national press, on Twitter, and throughout the blogosphere. By sundown, he was as
good as convicted.
Having known John for a number of years, and having worked with him on initiatives of social importance, I personally could not fathom his being involved in this scenario. But the investigation had to follow its course. I could only hope
that John would find the help of a Gregory Peck-like attorney, one who would drill down to the depths of the truth,
defending John's character and morals, and ultimately exonerating the defendant and even turning him into a local hero.
Of course, real life almost never plays out in the classic Hollywood style. Wanting to allow the Academy's internal
investigation to proceed, John was silent at first, then issued a memo to the Academy staff in which he clarified that there
was a single complaint under investigation, not three, and said in no uncertain terms that the incident in question "did
not happen." Less than two weeks later, the Academy concluded its investigation; in a statement, the Academy explained
that the Membership and Administration Committee "unanimously determined that no further action was merited on
this matter. The findings and recommendations of the committee were reported to the Board, which endorsed its recommendation. John Bailey remains President of the Academy."
I don't expect we'll ever know exactly what transpired behind the closed doors of the Academy's investigation. But
maybe one day we will see a movie with a similar narrative that will help us understand what John and his wife, Carol,
must have gone through during those weeks of uncertainty, and the trauma that must linger even after the investigation's
conclusion. Or, for that matter, a movie that highlights the motives and circumstances of the accuser, hauntingly lit by the
"bonfire of the vanities" that Variety initiated.
Standing up for rights is the right thing to do. The historical - and in too many instances continuing - treatment
of women and minorities is not right, and it is our responsibility to take action. But as we do so, we must remember: Civility
and truth are the basis of our being.

Kees van Oostrum
ASC President

12

June 2018

American Cinematographer

Photo by Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC.

The Film Buff



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - June 2018

Contents
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Intro
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 1
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - 2
American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Contents
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American Cinematographer - June 2018 - Cover3
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