Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Rules for Docs and Short Films Approved by Academy Board

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved documentary and short film rules for the 85th Academy Awards in 2013 at its most recent meeting on December 6, 2011.
The purpose of the new rules is to offer members more opportunities to view the films vying for an Oscar nomination, and/or win. Thus, more members will be able to vote in the categories of Documentary Feature, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film.
However, now that all motion pictures from now on will be made using digital photography, the designation of a Documentary Feature, and an animated or live-action short, really should not be "film." Film is the out-dated process. Now, digital photography is the process, but a motion picture is still the product, as well as the medium of motion picture communication.

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, producers 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 a digital screener will now be an option for satisfying this requirement.

A documentary feature'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 in 2013, however, a review by a movie critic in The New York Times and/or the Los Angeles Times will also be required. The Academy specifically specified implementation of this rule for the 85th Academy Awards in 2013. Does this leave open a door to review this controversial rule for a published review before 2014?

As with the final voting for the best documentary feature, members will still be required to see all the motion pictures in the Animated Short and Live Action Short categories before voting for a winner, but viewing them on a digital screener will now be an option for satisfying this requirement as well.

When it comes to non-standard format, such as IMAX, the producers must submit the motion picture to the Academy in a standard theatrical aspect ratio and in a format currently accepted for Academy exhibition to remain eligible. They may provide additional screenings in non-standard formats, but members’ attendance at such screenings will not be required for voting purposes. The Academy only mentioned IMAX, so does this rule apply to RealD 3D, and Dolby 3D as well? Confused?See Article.

Other rule changes for the documentary and short motion picture 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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