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Academy Officially Announces New Documentary and Short Film Rules

Academy Officially Announces New Documentary and Short Film Rules

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences officially announced their anticipated rule changes today. The New York Times broke the story this weekend that the Best Documentary process would be receiving an overhaul, which will require all films to get an LA Times or NY Times review in order to qualify and will allow the academy to vote on the final five nominees by viewing the films online or on screeners (previously, it was required that those voting must have seen all five films theatrically). The new rules affect the Documentary Feature, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories.

Read Indiewire’s previous coverage of the rule change news:

New Academy Rule: Only Docs With LAT or NYT Reviews Qualify for Oscars

Michael Moore: Best Documentary Oscar Will Be Chosen By the Full Academy

IDA and Quad Cinema, Two Four-Walling Oscar Qualifiers, Respond to Oscar Doc Rule Change

Here are the official rule changes from the Academy press release:

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 TheNew 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.

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