In the wake of theaters’ planned shutdown into May, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is pondering a change to their qualification rules for the upcoming 2021 ceremony.
Films typically have to play in-theaters to qualify for the Oscars. Also, couple in the fact that most film festivals have shuttered for the time being, and they’ve been the qualifying platforms for short films and international titles (SXSW says those pics submitted this year still will qualify for the Academy Awards).
In regards to international submissions, each country has its own set of qualifications before submitting a film to the Academy. With the anomaly Oscar Best Picture-winning success of South Korea’s Parasite, the expectation following this year’s Oscars is that the floodgates would open as a number of foreign films would compete, even if they’re not cleared by their respective home countries.
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“The Academy is focused on helping our staff, our members, and the industry safely navigate through this global health and economic crisis,” said an Academy spokesperson in a statement provided to Deadline. “We are in the process of evaluating all aspects of this uncertain landscape and what changes may need to be made. We are committed to being nimble and forward-thinking as we discuss what is best for the future of the industry and will make further announcements in the coming days.”
Also being impacted due to the theatrical shutdown are several documentaries looking to qualify for this year’s race. These plans have either been postponed or cancelled indefinitely. One of the docs to get pushed off the release calendar due to the theatrical shutdown is the Dan Rather-executive produced title Human Nature from Greenwich Entertainment, about gene editing technology, which was slated to open Friday in Los Angeles and Berkeley, CA. It will now debut on VOD/digital. Theatrical releases for several other Greenwich docs — Elizabeth Carroll’s Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy, Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni’s Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, and James Erskine’s Billie about singer Billie Holiday — have been put on hold while the distributor assesses the situation.
Debuting on VOD/digital would theoretically disqualify titles for Oscar consideration, but we’ll see what happens. It sounds like AMPAS is poised to be sensitive to the situation. There’s a little bit of a cushion here for the 2021 Oscars as they fall on February 28 this year, as opposed to this year’s squashed date of February 9.
Meanwhile, the TV Academy isn’t planning to adjust any of its submission or ballot dates for the 2020 Primetime Emmys. They’re remaining on track for a September 20 ceremony.
“There are currently no planned changes to the Emmy competition at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and update when appropriate,” a TV Academy spokesperson told Deadline on Wednesday.
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