The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. is protesting a decision by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to drop live-action shorts and short docus as Oscar categories, calling the move “totally wrong, short-sighted and damaging.”

In a statement released over the weekend, the LAFCA’s current prez, Charles Champlin, said, “Live-action shorts and documentaries of any length are vital elements of the motion picture as an art form.”

He pointed out that such notable talents as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman, Karel Reisz, Martha Coolidge, John Schlesinger and Taylor Hackford had cut their directing teeth in the short-film medium.

Champlin agreed with the Academy’s assessment that short films and docus are no longer commonly shown in movie theaters.

But rather than disqualify them, Champlin contends, that’s all the more reason why the Academy “of all institutions, should continue to use its prestige and power–and the immense outreach of the Oscarcast–to remind audiences and even exhibitors of the possibilities and excitements of the short form.”

Despite denials by the Academy, Champlin said the decision arouses the suspicion that the award categories were killed “to free more time on the Oscarcast for smoke and dancing girls.”

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