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BUSAN, Oct 6, 2015:The Academy Awards’ governing body is diversifying the group’s membership, its president said today, following recent criticism that it is dominated by white, elderly men. The academy, which represents filmmakers around the world, has come under fire this year for selecting a membership unrepresentative of the cultural diversity of the international film community. “It is something we are addressing. In the last few years we are making great strides in diversifying our membership,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while speaking to the press on the eve of her keynote speech at the 20th Busan International Film Festival. Boone Isaacs said she welcomed the issue being raised because “we are seeing a change. It could be quicker but we are seeing it”. This year five Korean filmmakers were among 322 new members admitted to the academy — the largest influx ever to its membership of around 7,000 — as it seeks to better represent the industry in North America and around the world, she added. Boone Isaacs is the third woman and first African American to lead the academy in its 88-year history. “The academy has always been interested in the international filmmaker, however recently we have really stepped up the effort to recognise talent from around the world.” Critics of the academy, including, African-American civil rights groups, have protested that the body’s voting members are overwhelmingly white and have an average age of over 60. Boone Isaacs also said her organisation was keeping an eye on how the medium of film was adapting to new technology. “Every year at the academy we review the rules and regulations and nowadays motion pictures can be seen on your phone, on your computer, or it can be see with 300 or 400 people in a movie theatre.” The president added that she could see by the wide range of films on offer in Busan that it was an “exciting time” to be involved in cinema. “Around the world I think we are gong to see a growth in motion pictures and visual story telling,” said Boone Isaacs. “And right now Asia is absolutely at the forefront.” Boone Isaacs said her keynote address at BIFF would be designed to explain the work the organisation does apart from staging the annual Academy Awards, while “opening up a dialogue between the academy and film communities around the world”.

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