Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oscar...rules change for Documentaries & eligibility!

Documentary filmmakers - at the low end of the production spectrum struggling for recognition - suffered a major setback this weekend.

In a bold-faced effort to curtail an avalanche of documentaries from being submitted for Oscar consideration each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is in the throes of imposing a new set of criteria for eligility requirements.

According to the proposed new rules, documentaries must be reviewed by a professional film critic at one of two of the major daily newspapers around the country - the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times - before they'll be able to take a shot at the coveted trophy.

Without doubt, the change will hurt the prospects for promising fledgling filmmakers who have qualified previously by paying a small fee to organizations such as DocuWeeks (IDA) to have their projects screened in vital Los Angeles and New York venues in time for consideration by the Academy.

Some theorize that the Academy's shift in gears is based on an underlying desire to focus the spotlight on documentaries that have gone the route of a more traditional (formal) theatrical release.

The specifics of reviews - length, legitimacy, professional requirements - have yet to be hammered out by the Board of Governors.

According to Michael Moore (who supports implementation) the rules are to take effect in the 2013 season.

Documentaries without commercial distribution may be hardest hit by the changes.

On the heels of the surprise announcement, one filmmaker was quick to denounce the move by the Academy.

"The change is contrary to the very nature of documentaries with their inclination toward difficult causes and subjects which are not commercially appealing," one up-and-coming auteur lamented.

Stay posted for updates as the controversy rages on!

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