OSCARS: Academy OKs New Documentary & Short Film Rules

Exclusive: Academy Tightens Documentary Rules; Too Much Power To LA-NY Times?

Beverly Hills, CA –The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved documentary and short films rules for the 85th Academy Awards at its most recent meeting (December 6). The most significant changes expand members’ opportunities to view contending films, enabling more members to participate in the Academy’s voting processes in the Documentary Feature, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories.

In the Documentary Feature category, the entire Documentary Branch will now receive all eligible titles beginning in the first round of voting. To facilitate this change, filmmakers must submit 200 DVDs, an increase from the 30 that had been required in previous years. In the final round of voting in this category, members must still see all the nominated films, but the viewing of films on digital or DVD screeners will now be an option for satisfying this requirement.

A documentary feature film’s eligibility will continue to depend on completing seven-day qualifying runs in both New York and Los Angeles that are advertised in at least one major newspaper, as specified by Academy rules, in each city. For the 85th Academy Awards, however, a review by a movie critic in The New York Times and/or the Los Angeles Times will also be required.

In the Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories, members will still have to see all the nominated films before casting their final ballots, but viewing the films on screeners will now be an option for satisfying this requirement. Films that are shown during their theatrical run in a non-standard format, such as IMAX, will have to be submitted to the Academy in a standard theatrical aspect ratio and in a format currently accepted for Academy exhibition to remain eligible. Producers may provide additional screenings of their films in non-standard formats, but members’ attendance at such screenings will not be required for voting purposes.

Other rules changes for the documentary and short films categories include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

  1. Waaaaaay too much power.

    I pity the documentarians whose films are not seen by the lazy critics at these publication.

  2. All this means is HBO and Showtime and the like will buy ads in the L.A. and the NY Times in exchange for a review, which means those documentary filmmakers without a deep pocket or a major distributor behind them are sh*t out of luck to attempt to get any kind recognition for their film after struggling to get some kind of release in a theater.

    It also means you gotta be a rock star, like Michael Moore or Wim Wenders to now qualify for the doc feature awards since its always easier for the like to get press. If you’re a nobody, forget it now.

    Its odd that this will be the only Oscar award that requires a press review from 2 specific newspapers. Why these 2 papers? Do you also have to be singled out by a NY or LA Times critic to even be considered for an acting award? Just wondering……. What if the reviewer doesn’t like you or the film and refuses to review your work for personal reasons? I know this has happened to colleagues of mine in the biz. Believe it or not, reviewers are not democratic (adj. not noun).

    Just further proof with the elimination of all testimonial and honorary awards from the telecast for fear of alienating the “young” 18-49 TV demographic, it looks like the Oscars are more concerned about “names” and national awareness of a “mainstream” film for their TV show and less about discovering new talent and finding those gems that deserve recognition and a boost in public awareness. What a shame.

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