Rule Twelve: Special Rules for the Documentary Awards

  1. DEFINITION

    An eligible documentary film is defined as a theatrically released nonfiction motion picture dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects.  It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction.

  2. CATEGORIES

    The Documentary awards are divided into two categories:

    1. Documentary Feature - motion pictures with a running time of more than 40 minutes, and
    2. Documentary Short Subject - motion pictures with a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.
  3. DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
    1. Eligibility
      1. To be eligible for 84th Academy Awards consideration, a documentary feature must complete both a seven-day commercial run in a theater in Los Angeles County, and a seven-day commercial run in a theater in the Borough of Manhattan during the eligibility period.
      2. The eligibility period for documentary features begins on January 1, 2012, and ends on December 31, 2012.  All paperwork must be completed and received by the Academy no later than 30 days after the end of the qualifying runs.  For films completing their qualifying runs after August 15, 2012, all paperwork, including legal contracts, must be completed and received by the Academy by 5 p.m. PT on Monday, September 24, 2012.  Those films submitting paperwork by September 24 with a planned qualifying run before the end of the calendar year, but which may not have a locked picture by the September 24 deadline, may request an extension on the DVD submission only to October 24. 
      3. Both commercial runs must take place in the same eligibility period and within two years of the motion picture’s completion date.  A run in only one of the qualifying cities disqualifies a picture from Academy Awards contention in the Documentary Feature category in any year.  Documentaries submitted for consideration for the 84th Academy Awards in any category will not be eligible for consideration in subsequent Awards years in any category.  The picture must be submitted in the same Awards year in which it first qualifies. 
      4. The picture must be exhibited using 35mm or 70mm film, or in a 24- or 48- frame progressive scan Digital Cinema format with a minimum projector resolution of 2048 by 1080 pixels, source image format conforming to ST 428-1:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master—Image Characteristics;
        image compression (if used) conforming to ISO/IEC 15444-1 (JPEG 2000), and image and sound file formats suitable for exhibition in commercial Digital Cinema sites.

        The audio in a typical Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is 5.1 channels of discrete audio and that is the preferred audio configuration, although up to 7.1 channels is acceptable. The minimum for a non-mono configuration of the audio shall be three channels as Left, Center, Right (a Left/Right configuration is not acceptable in a theatrical environment). 

        The audio data shall be formatted in conformance with ST 428-2:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master – Audio Characteristics and ST 428-3:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master Audio Channel Mapping and Channel Labeling.

      5. Screenings during each of the qualifying runs must occur at least twice daily and must begin between noon and 10 p.m.  The motion picture must be exhibited for paid admission, and must be advertised during each of its runs in at least one of these major newspapers in each city: The New York Times, Time Out New York or The Village Voice (New York); Los Angeles Times or LA Weekly (Los Angeles).  The film must have a movie critic review in either The New York Times and/or Los Angeles Times.  A television critic review will not be accepted.  Advertisements must have minimum dimensions of one inch by two inches and must include the theater, film title and the dates and screening times of the qualifying exhibitions.  Advertising must begin on the first day of the qualifying run.
      6. Works that are essentially promotional or instructional are not eligible, nor are works that are essentially unfiltered records of performances.
      7. Only individual documentary works are eligible.  This excludes from consideration:
        • episodes extracted from a larger series,
        • segments taken from a single “composite” program, and
        • alternate versions of ineligible works.
      8. The significant dialogue or narration must be in English, or the entry must have English-language subtitles.
      9. Films that, in any version, receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release will not be eligible for Academy Awards.  (This includes broadcast and cable television as well as home video marketing and Internet transmission, with the exception of password-protected Internet screenings for press review or film festival submission.)  Ten minutes or ten percent of the running time of a film, whichever is shorter, is allowed to be shown in a nontheatrical medium prior to the film’s theatrical release.   
    2. Submission
      1. A Theatrical Screening Information Form informing the Academy of the details of each of the qualifying runs must be filed with the Awards office before the runs begin.
      2. Entrants (including non-U.S. entrants) must have submitted to the Academy a fully completed Official Entry Form, 200 DVDs of the entry, without trailers or other extraneous material, capable of playing on Region 1/NTSC DVD players, (unless streaming technology is available) and all other required materials by 5 p.m. PT on the dates listed in paragraph III.A.2 above.
    3. Voting
      1. Documentaries will be viewed by members of the Documentary Branch, which will use a preferential voting system to produce a shortlist of 15 films.  Five nominees will then be chosen by a second round of balloting, again using a preferential voting system.
      2. Final voting shall be restricted to active and life members of the Academy who have viewed all of the nominated documentaries. 
    4. Copies Required
        The creators of the shortlisted documentaries must submit either two 35mm or 70mm film prints or two DCP versions of the documentary by 5 p.m. PT on Monday, December 3, 2012.  Following the nominations screenings, one copy of the work shall become the property of the Academy Film Archive.
    5. Nominees and Award Recipients
      1. The nominee(s) should be the individual(s) most involved in the key creative aspects of the filmmaking process.  A maximum of two persons may be designated as nominees, one of whom must be the credited director who exercised directorial control, and the other of whom must have a producer or director credit.  If a producer is named, that individual must have performed a major portion of the producing functions, in accordance with Academy producer criteria.  No more than two statuettes will normally be given in the Documentary Feature category.  All individuals with a “Producer” or “Produced by” credit on films that reach the semifinal round will automatically be vetted.  The Documentary Branch Executive Committee will determine which producers, if any, are eligible to receive an Oscar.  In the unlikely event of a dispute, filmmakers may appeal the committee’s decision.  In extremely rare circumstances, a third statuette may be awarded.
      2. Production companies or persons with the screen credit of executive producer, co-producer or any credit other than director or producer shall not be eligible as nominees for the motion picture.
    6. Advertising and Publicity Restrictions

      Only documentaries that receive nominations or Academy Awards may refer to their Academy endorsements in advertising and publicity materials.  A film that is selected for the shortlist may not identify itself as an “Academy Award finalist,” “Academy Award shortlist film” or the like except when it appears in a program consisting entirely of such films.

    7. Other Rules
      1. Documentaries submitted in this category may also qualify for awards in other categories if they meet the specified requirements.
      2. The Documentary Branch Executive Committee shall resolve all questions of eligibility or rules.
  4. DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
    1. Eligibility
      1. To be eligible for 84th Academy Awards consideration, a documentary short subject must complete a seven-day commercial run in a theater in either Los Angeles County or the Borough of Manhattan, during the eligibility period. 
      2. The eligibility period for documentary short subjects begins on January 1, 2012, and ends on December 31, 2012.  All paperwork must be completed and received by the Academy no later than 30 days after the end of the qualifying run.  For films completing their qualifying run after August 1, 2012, all paperwork, including legal contracts, must be completed and received by the Academy by 5 p.m. PT on Monday, September 3, 2012.
      3. The qualifying run must take place within two years of the motion picture’s completion date.  The picture must be submitted in the same Awards year in which it first qualifies.  Documentaries submitted for the 84th Academy Awards in any category will not be eligible for consideration in subsequent Awards years in any category.
      4. The picture must be exhibited using 35mm or 70mm film, or in a 24- or 48- frame progressive scan Digital Cinema format with a minimum projector resolution of 2048 by 1080 pixels, source image format conforming to ST 428-1:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master—Image Characteristics;
        image compression (if used) conforming to ISO/IEC 15444-1 (JPEG 2000), and image and sound file formats suitable for exhibition in commercial Digital Cinema sites.

        The audio in a typical Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is 5.1 channels of discrete audio and that is the preferred audio configuration, although up to 7.1 channels is acceptable.  The minimum for a non-mono configuration of the audio shall be three channels as Left, Center, Right (a Left/Right configuration is not acceptable in a theatrical environment). 

        The audio data shall be formatted in conformance with ST 428-2:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master – Audio Characteristics and ST 428-3:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master Audio Channel Mapping and Channel Labeling.

      5. Screenings in the qualifying run must occur at least once daily and begin between noon and 10 p.m.  The motion picture must be exhibited for paid admission, and must be advertised during its run in a major newspaper: The New York Times, Time Out New York or The Village Voice (New York); Los Angeles Times or LA Weekly (Los Angeles).  Advertisements must have minimum dimensions of one inch by two inches and must include the theater, film title and the dates and screening times of the qualifying exhibition.  Advertising must begin on the first day of the qualifying run.
      6. Works that are essentially promotional or instructional are not eligible, nor are works that are essentially unfiltered records of performances.
      7. Only individual documentary works are eligible.  This excludes from consideration:
        • episodes extracted from a larger series,
        • segments taken from a single “composite” program,
        • alternate versions of ineligible works, and
        • documentary short subjects created from materials substantially taken from or cut down from completed, publicly exhibited feature-length documentaries.
      8. The significant dialogue or narration must be in English, or the entry must have English-language subtitles.
      9. Films that, in any version, receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release will not be eligible for Academy Awards.  (This includes broadcast and cable television as well as home video marketing and Internet transmission, with the exception of password-protected Internet screenings for press review or film festival submission.)  Up to ten percent of the running time of a film is allowed to be shown in a nontheatrical medium prior to the film’s theatrical release. 
    2. Submission
      1. A Theatrical Screening Information Form informing the Academy of the details of the qualifying run must be filed with the Awards office before the run begins.
      2. Entrants (including non-U.S. entrants) must have submitted to the Academy a fully completed Official Entry Form, 30 DVDs of the entry, without trailers or other extraneous material, capable of playing on Region 1/NTSC DVD players, and all other required materials by 5 p.m. PT on the dates listed in paragraph IV.A.2 above.
    3. Voting
      1. Documentaries will be viewed by Documentary Branch members, who will use an averaged score system to produce an eight-picture shortlist.  Three to five nominees will then be chosen by a second round of balloting, using the averaged score system
      2. Final voting shall be restricted to active and life Academy members who have viewed all of the nominated documentaries in a theatrical setting.  Viewing nominated works on “screeners” will not qualify a member for a ballot in the category, with the exception of those Documentary Branch members who have participated in the nominations selection process.
    4. Copies Required
      1. In addition to the 30 DVDs required for the first round of balloting, filmmakers whose entries are voted onto the shortlist must submit another 50 DVDs, without trailers or other extraneous material, capable of playing on Region 1/NTSC DVD players, by 5 p.m. PT on Monday, October 15, 2012.
      2. The creators of the shortlisted documentaries must submit either two 35mm or 70mm film prints or two DCP versions of the documentary by 5 p.m. PT on Monday, October 15, 2012.  Following the nominations screenings, one copy of the work shall become the property of the Academy Film Archive.
    5. Nominees and Award Recipients
      1. The nominee(s) should be the individual(s) most involved in the key creative aspects of the filmmaking process.  A maximum of two persons may be designated as nominees, one of whom must be the credited director who exercised directorial control, and the other of whom must have a producer or director credit.  If a producer is named, that individual must have performed a major portion of the producing functions, in accordance with Academy producer criteria.  All individuals with a “Producer” or “Produced by” credit on films that reach the semifinal round will automatically be vetted.  The Documentary Branch Executive Committee will determine which producer, if any, is eligible to receive an Oscar.  In the unlikely event of a dispute, filmmakers may appeal the Committee’s decision.
      2. Production companies or persons with the screen credit of executive producer, co-producer or any credit other than director or producer shall not be eligible as nominees for the motion picture.
    6. Advertising and Publicity Restrictions

      Only documentaries that receive nominations or Academy Awards may refer to their Academy endorsements in advertising and publicity materials.  A film that is selected for the shortlist may not identify itself as an “Academy Award finalist,” “Academy Award shortlist film” or the like except when it appears in a program consisting entirely of such films.

    7. Other Rules

      The Documentary Branch Executive Committee shall resolve all questions of eligibility or rules.

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