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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 00:16 GMT 01:16 UK
Writers condemn screener ban
Smaller films rely on screeners to reach Oscar voters
A branch of the Writers Guild of America has become the first Hollywood union to attack the ban on screeners for Oscar eligible films on Monday.

Screeners are DVDs of films sent out to voters for viewing. They are useful for smaller films seeking Oscar nomination.

"Screeners have become an important part of the way small, well-written films find their audience," WGA West president Victoria Riskin said.

A ban on screeners was enforced two weeks ago to try and curb movie piracy.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been at the forefront of the ban, which has the support most of the major studios.

Ms Riskin urged them to reconsider and "do the fair and right thing for all artists".

Directors' anger

She said writers such as Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and John Irving (The Cider House Rules) were brought to Academy attention because of the use of screeners.

Last week, more than 140 leading directors, including Pedro Almodovar, Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, James Ivory, Mike Leigh, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese and Jim Sheridan also attacked the ban.

A spokesman from the Directors Guild of America said "the leadership is in discussion on the issue" and a statement may be released in the next few days.

An MPAA spokesman said the organisation had no further comment over the ban, but said it wanted to "exchange of thoughts and ideas on the critical issue of combating piracy" with other parties.

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