An Open Letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

March 13, 2002
From: former members of the Fourth Way School

To: Bruce Davis, Executive Director Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy Foundation
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California 90211-1972

Dear Mr. Davis,

This is an urgent matter concerning one of the nominees for this year's Academy award in the Documentary (short) category titled "Artists and Orphans: a True Drama." If you investigate the matter, we believe you will find that it is not a documentary at all, but appears to be instead a well-disguised promotional piece, which would seemingly violate Rule 12.2 which states; "A film considered to be primarily a promotional film will not be considered eligible as a documentary."

Attached please find two articles that will point you to the organization that made this film. One is a recent brief item from March 11, 2002. The other is an older article from December 23, 1978.

The nomination for an Academy award already has given this group a kind of legitimacy it does not deserve. Please understand that to giving this group any further recognition might be embarrassing to the Academy.

The film "Artists and Orphans" does not seem to be in the documentary tradition. It is instead an exercise of the lie of omission. That is, the group behind the film has no meaningful prior record of charitable activity and the documentary does nothing to explain how and why the group operates and its connection to the project.

The film also obscures the fact that for decades, the leader of the group (Sharon Gans, the "star" of the documentary) has amassed millions of dollars in real estate holdings currently held in the name of her children by engaging in what many would consider destructive "cult-like" activity.

Again, the film appears to be largely a promotional piece designed to legitimize Ms. Gans and her organization, and the Academy should disqualify it from any further consideration for award or recognition.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.