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10 Things Michael Moore Wants You to Know About the Academy's New Documentary Rules

By Robert Silva | Indiewire April 18, 2012 at 11:26AM

10 Things Michael Moore Wants You to Know About the Academy's New Documentary Rules
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#6 Glorified TV Movies, So Long!

"Too many of our nominated movies seemed to be made for television and the network and were qualified by sneaking a quiet run in New York and L.A. that wouldn’t be announced publicly and wouldn't get a review in the New York Times and L.A. Times because they wanted to get that review when the film showed on the network in a few months. They kept to the letter of the law, but not the spirit. They were really TV movies that weren't satisfied with just winning an Emmy; they wanted to win an Oscar, too."

#7 Why the New York Times Matters, But Not as Much as It Thinks It Does

"We were told by the New York Times that it is their policy to review every movie that gets a true theatrical release that opens in Manhattan, regardless of how big or small the film is. We thought, 'Wow, that's the way to guarantee this was really and truly in theaters,'" Moore said.

"This got reported initially by the New York Times that somehow we were ceding control of who can get nominated over to the New York Times. That is absolutely not true. We're only using them because of their rule. If they change that policy, we'll change."

#8 "If A.O Scott Has a Cold," Filmmakers Can Appeal

"We’ve instituted a very liberal appeal process where essentially all the documentary filmmaker has to do is say, 'Hey, here is the day my film opened in Manhattan, there's no review in the New York Times, but the film was there. Well, our attitude is: you're in, you're qualified, you are eligible. We're not going to be sticklers about this. We're using it pretty much as a guidepost to guarantee that the film was at the theaters."

#9 The New Rules Favor the Coasts, and It Sucks

"It is [cultural imperialism]. It's not right," Moore said. "I say that as someone from Michigan. But the larger Academy, though, for all the other fiction movies, they have to play that week in New York and L.A. So we're just lining up our rules to be totally in sync with the rest of the Academy to be totally the same, so documentaries are not looked at as the bastard stepcousins of cinema. The L.A. - New York thing, I'm not the biggest proponent of that. It's there simply because that's the general rule of the Academy for all movies."

#10 The New Rules Will Ensure the Survival of the Documentary Category

"Those who want to remove documentaries from the Oscar show, they still exist in large numbers. They're not the majority right now, and one thing I'm hoping to do with these new rules is take away any of their ammunition. And one of the biggest things is that they don't get to vote for documentaries unless they happen to be in New York or L.A. during one of those three nights [where all five nominees are shown in theaters] in January or February," Moore said.

"Starting this year, there's none of that. We'll have screeners, you can watch them at home, we're going to start streaming them next year,” he said. “Once we get more these 6,000 Academy members engaged, I think the talk of removing the documentaries from the Oscars will never come again."

This article is related to: Documentary, Academy Awards, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Michael Moore