David Mackenzie tells Oscar nominees: don’t “babble” on Trump

Director David Mackenzie. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty
Director David Mackenzie. Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty
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The Scottish director of an Oscar best film nominee has urged this year’s winners not to “babble” on about political issues.

Film-maker David Mackenzie, right, directed Hell Or High Water starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine, which has earned four Academy Award nominations, including best picture.

Matt Damon addresses a foreign language Oscars event. Picture: Getty/Kevin Winter

Matt Damon addresses a foreign language Oscars event. Picture: Getty/Kevin Winter

Today’s ceremony is expected to be dominated by political speeches about US president Donald Trump and his controversial travel ban.

But speaking at a pre-Oscars party celebrating British nominees, Mackenzie said: “It’s interesting. I think there’s a lot of politicising going on at the moment. I hope the message doesn’t get diluted by too much babble so I have mixed feelings about that.”

British actor David Harewood, who starred in TV shows Homeland and The Night Manager, said he supported Oscar winners who wished to criticise Trump.

“Any attempt to bash Trump is good,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun night. Definitely get your recorders out for some fun speeches.”

Singer Jessie J, who performed at the Film Is Great event in Los Angeles, said the Oscars were a “perfect situation” to address political issues that “people are avoiding talking about”.

She said: “Artists and performers and people in the limelight have to reflect the times. It is crucial for artists to reflect the times.

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not listening.”

Cara Speller, the British producer of Pear Cider And Cigarettes, which is nominated for best animated short film, said artists had a “responsibility to speak out”.

“Our very way of life is being threatened and curtailed,” she said. “I won’t be doing that. Other people will put it much better than me but I think that’s great and I think it’s important actually.”

But British special effects supervisor Neil Corbould, nominated for his work on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, said he believed political messages were for “another platform”.

“It should be for the film people I think,” he said.

“Political is another platform. People are allowed to say what they want I suppose.”

Meanwhile Jodie Foster and Michael J Fox have led an anti-Trump protest which was staged instead of the usual pre-Oscars party.

Foster, a double Oscar winner, said she rarely spoke out in public but that it was now “time to show up”.

Back To The Future star Fox told the crowd “we are the lucky ones” and that he wanted to “share a bit of that luck” with refugees who want to enter the US.

“I believe that when so much good has been done unto you it’s natural to feel a sense of civic or even global responsibility,” he told the Beverly Hills rally.

“I consider myself an optimist and that can be a tall order at times for me personally, and more as I see a growing intolerance and lack of compassion and empathy in the world around us.

“But one’s dignity may be assaulted, it may be vandalised, it may be cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it’s surrendered.”