During a recent press appearance in promotion of his upcoming starring role in The Promised Land, actor Mads Mikkelsen mocked a journalist’s attempt to ‘gotcha’ him and director Nikolaj Arcel with a disingenuous question about the film’s “lack of diversity.”
The exchange between the Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny actor and the currently unidentified reporter took place amidst a press conference for the 18th century Danish historical drama held at the recent Venice International Film Festival.
Pressed by the reporter, “This is a cast and Danish production, which is entirely Nordic. Therefore [it] has some lack of diversity, you would say?”, a laughing Mikkelsen replied, “What?” and asked him to start “from the get-go.”
“[It is said that there are] some rules of diversity across the Atlantic for competing in the [Academy Awards Best Picture],” the reporter then explained. “The equivalent to this competition [and] as I see, you don’t live up to these standards with this broadcast. And I’m curious, not just because of artistic reasons [but] because of the lack of diversity that this can’t compete in that competition. Are you worried about that?”
Dismissing the premise of the reporter’s question, Mikkelsen fired back, “Are you? I’m serious and honest, because you’re putting us on the spot, so you answer the question.”
The journalist then went on to mention Parasite, noting that the South Korean film didn’t meet the Academy’s new diversity quotas but still ended up winning several awards in 2020, including Best Director, Best International Feature Film, and Best Picture.
“In comparison, Parasite, I would think was a great movie,” said the reporter. “Coming from South Korea [it] had the same level of diversity, but coming from South Korea this was actually still eligible for the competition. You as a Danish movie, with an all Nordic cast is not, and that’s what I think is a little bit conundrum.”
“Okay, well, first of all, the film takes place in Denmark in the 1750s,” then interjected Arcel. “We do have a big plot line, you know, about a girl of colour who is being subjected to racism, which was very rare [to see] any people of colour in Denmark; almost nobody.”
“She was probably, at the time, the only one in the entire country of Denmark,” he continued. “So I would say that [there] wasn’t a thought in our mind that… I think it would be a little weird… you know, it’s just a historical… it’s how it was in the 1750s.”
Issuing a joint statement in September of 2020, Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson announced that, going forward, films would need to meet certain ‘diversity standards’ in order to be eligible for a Best Picture nomination.
“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them,” wrote the pair.
“The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality,” they added. “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”
These ridiculous diversity quotas now require films to include “at least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group” and achieve the appropriate levels of “on-screen representation, themes and narratives” in order to be eligible for the Academy’s highest honor.
Per the new guidelines, the “underrepresented racial or ethnic” groups include “Asian, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African America, Indigenous/Native American/ Alaskan Native, Middle Eastern/North African, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander,” as well as “[any] other underrepresented race or ethnicity.”
Further, filmmakers will also need to take into consideration the separate diversity requirements for members of the ever-growing LGBTQ+ community, women, and even people with “cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing.”