The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has confirmed it considers The Warrior as British, despite the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decision that the film is ineligible as the UK entry for the foreign-language Oscars.
Duncan Kenworthy, chair of BAFTA's film committee, said in a statement on Thursday that: "BAFTA's Film Committee clearly takes a different view from the American Academy about the non-British status of The Warrior." However, Kenworthy also stressed that the American Academy was perfectly entitled to set its own eligibility criteria.
BAFTA said that the original reason given for the US Academy's ruling was that Hindi is not a language of the country of origin." The UK body said that that position had been "clarified" in a letter to Kenworthy, where the American Academy accepted that two previous successful Australian submissions - the Cantonese-English Floating Life and the Spanish-Italian-English La Spagnola - were also in foreign languages not "immediately associated with the submitting nation".
However, the Academy's letter said that the Australian submissions were "emphatically Australian", adding that: "The action took place in Australia, the characters were carving out lives in Australia and the film dealt with Australian issues".
BAFTA said: "In the American Academy's view, the fact that The Warrior was filmed in India with non-British actors meant that the association with Britain was too tenuous for the film to be described as British".
While BAFTA described the ruling as "positive news" for UK films with British characters speaking in non-English languages, the US Academy's decision comes despite the fact that The Warrior's writer, director, financing, sales agent, post production, and most of its department heads were British.
Critics of the decision to rule The Warrior ineligible argue that the Academy has taken a narrow view of what a British film can encompass as its subject matter. The creative starting point for its director Asif Kapadia, who was born and bred in London, was a Japanese folk story about a samurai. Along with the history of his parent's country, Kapadia was heavily influenced by films such as Spaghetti westerns.
The UK submission instead of The Warrior is the Welsh-language film Eldra.