When questioned how the absence of diversity in his next movie The Promised Land may harm its chances of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, Mads Mikkelsen wasn’t overly enthused.
During a recent Q&A session at the Venice Film Festival, an unknown reporter asked the actor to comment on the Academy’s new diversity and inclusion guidelines while the actor and the film’s director, Nikolaj Arcel, were present. For a project to qualify for the Oscars’ Best Picture category, the new standards, which are set to take effect in 2024, mandate that it satisfy two of its four criteria, which center on onscreen accountability, the artistic management and team involved, industry exposure and opportunities, and spectators advancement.
The reporter questioned the two, referring to The Promised Land, and said, “This is a cast and Danish production that’s entirely Nordic, and, therefore, has some lack of diversity, you would say. There’s also new rules implied in Hollywood…” “What are you on to?” Mikkelsen spoke up while chuckling and shaking his head. “From the get-go?”
The reporter interjected the answer by saying, “From the get-go. There are some rules of diversity across the Atlantic for competing in the Best Picture [category], the equivalent of this competition. As I see, you don’t live up to these standards with this cast. I’m just curious: It’s not because of artistic reasons, it’s because of a lack of diversity, that this can’t compete in that competition. Are you worried about it?”
“Are you?” Mikkelsen responded right away. “I’m serious and honest because you’re putting us on the spot, so you answer the question.” The reporter referred to the criteria as “a conundrum” and appeared to be attempting to explain why even Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which won the Best Picture prize in 2020, would no longer qualify under the new guidelines. However, Arcel eased the tension right away by intervening and telling how The Promised Land features a colored archetype.
Well, first of all, the film takes place in Denmark in the 1750s,” the director stated. “We do have a big plotline about a girl of color who is being subjected to racism, which was very rare, any people of color in Denmark… almost nobody. She was probably at the time the only one in the entire country of Denmark.” However, Arcel said, “It wasn’t a thought in our mind.”
He continued stating, “I think it would be a little weird, It’s just historical — how it was in the 1750s.”