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Film academy rules ineligible documentary series like 'OJ'

Film academy rules ineligible documentary series like 'OJ'”

Responding to this year's Oscar win by the ESPN miniseries "O.J.: Made in America", which appeared in limited theatrical release to qualify for the prize, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday that multi-part or limited series will no longer be eligible in the Oscar documentary categories. It was then released in select theaters in Los Angeles and NY, before premiering as a five-part miniseries on ABC and continuing on to ESPN.

The new rules state that "multi-part or limited series are not eligible for awards consideration" and that any questions in this regard will be resolved by the Documentary Branch Executive Committee. Interestingly, O.J. probably still would have qualified under the new rule, since its film bona fides were fairly established prior to its first TV airing, not only through a theatrical qualifying-run, but prior to that through film festival screenings at Sundance and Tribeca. (Hopefully you were at least allowed to get up and pee, or jog around the theater, or eat a meal or two.) The film was a controversial Oscar nominee since many felt it was actually a limited series, which is exactly what Made in America might end up calling itself when Emmy nominations are announced in July.

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The film, an exploration into the 1995 murder trial of former US football star O.J. Simpson, won the best documentary Oscar in February over "13th", "I Am Not Your Negro", "Fire at Sea" and "Life, Animated". For these reasons, it long was a struggle to find members willing to serve on the committee, and those who did agree to serve tended to be older and retired; the byproduct was that a large percentage of committee members - particularly veteran animators - supported films that employed traditional forms of animation (hand-drawn, stop-motion, etc.), of the GKIDS variety, over what some might call "edgier" animation. "Voting in the nominations round will now be preferential instead of based on a numerical scoring system".

The Academy regularly updates its rules on Oscars eligibility and campaigning.

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As for other changes, the Academy defined them as mere "housekeeping adjustments". The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval. This does not prohibit reasonable food and beverage from being provided at screening venues or at an adjacent location immediately before or after the screening. It gave the Worldwide Leader its very first Oscar.

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