Maybe it went semi-unnoticed because they were accepting one of the night’s lower-profile awards, but the personal tiff between ‘Music by Prudence’ producer Elinor Burkett and director-producer Roger Ross Williams spilled over on stage at Sunday’s Oscars, causing one of the night’s weirder moments.
In what is being dubbed the “Kanye” moment of the night, Burkett rushed the stage while Williams was doing his thank-yous and verbally nudged him aside so she could speak. The problem is that she was not supposed to accept the award, and because of personal animosity between the two filmmakers, she said Williams rushed to the stage while his cane-wielding mother blocked Burkett from exiting the aisle.
In an interview with Salon, Burkett said she was shut out of Oscar-related events and because the two aren’t speaking to each other (related to a lawsuit over the film), they did not discuss who would be allowed to speak if they won.
So, when their names WERE called, “he raced up there to accept the award. And his mother took her cane and blocked me. So I couldn’t get up there very fast.”
The film is a story of a Zimbabwean singer-songwriter who was born severely disabled, but Burkett tells Salon it was supposed to be about a whole band, and not just Prudence. “The movie was my idea,” she says. “I live in Zimbabwe. Roger had never even heard of Zimbabwe before I told him about this.”
By Oscar night, her frustration had boiled over. “You know, I felt my role in this [film] has been denigrated again and again, and it wasn’t going to happen this time.”
Williams, also speaking to Salon, argued that Burkett disowned the film because of the creative differences, but that she was still eligible for an award. He says the academy decided he would be the one to speak if they won.
“She just ambushed me,” he said of the moment she emerged on stage. “I was sort of in shock.”
So, did his mom really try to speech-block Burkett with her cane? “My mother got up to hug me,” he says. “And my mother is 87 years old. She was excited.”
Williams can’t help but agree this situation was similar to Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift at last year’s MTV VMAs
“She did! She pulled a Kanye. And it’s a shame, because this is such positive, happy film.”
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