The new Academy rule in question stipulates that a theatrically screened film must be reviewed in either the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times. This was a problem because the New York Times considers DocuWeeks a festival, and thus refuses to review its selections. With that road blocked, IDA executive director Michael Lumpkin secured a guarantee from the L.A. Times that the paper would review all the films in the DocuWeeks program.
"It is upon the filmmakers to follow the review guidelines," Lumpkin says, “but we'll be qualifying films as we've done for 15 years already."
Last year, Danfung Dennis' "Hell and Back Again" was nominated for an Oscar and qualified through its DocuWeeks run.
The relevant section of the official Academy rule reads: “The film must have a movie critic review in either The New York Times and/or Los Angeles Times.” So an L.A. Times review is sufficient for qualification on its own.
The 16th Annual DocuWeeks showcase will take place at Laemmle NoHo 7 in Los Angeles August 10-30, and at IFC Center in New York August 3-23. The full line-up of films will be announced in July.