Documentary filmmaker Roger Ross Williams felt like Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when his former producer stole his spotlight at the Oscars on Sunday, March 7. Audience members at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and viewers around the world were puzzled when Elinor Burkett joined Williams onstage and pushed him aside as he started his Best Documentary Short acceptance speech.
Stunned Williams admits he was too shocked to do anything, but now insists Burkett should never have been there after removing her name from the credits of the film following a bust-up over the film "Music by Prudence". Burkett tells Salon, "The director and I had a bad difference over the direction of the film that resulted in a lawsuit that has settled amicably out of court."
"But there have been all these events around the Oscars, and I wasn't invited to any of them. And he's not speaking to me. So we weren't even able to discuss ahead of the time who would be the one person allowed to speak if we won. When we won, 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."
But Williams tells the website, "Only one person is allowed to accept the award. I was the director, and she was removed from the project nearly a year ago, but she was able to still qualify as a producer on the project, and be an official nominee."
"But she was very angry - she actually removed herself from the project because she wanted more creative control. She just ambushed me. I was sort of in shock ... I just expected her to stand there. She pulled a Kanye and it's a shame, because this is such positive, happy film."
Kanye West upstaged Taylor Swift at the MTV VMA Awards in 2009 when he ripped the microphone from her to protest the country music star's Best Female Video win over Beyonce Knowles. And, as for Burkett's claim that the director's mother tried to keep her from going up onstage at the Oscars, Williams adds, "My mother got up to hug me, and my mother is 87 years old."