BEVERLY HILLS — The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved documentary and short films rules for the 85th Academy Awards at its most recent meeting. The most significant changes expand members’ opportunities to view contending films, enabling more members to participate in the Academy’s voting processes in the Documentary Feature, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories.
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 The New 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.
The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 24. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26.