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Strand to distribute acclaimed shorts

In an effort to get theatrical exposure for rarely seen short films, Strand Releasing has announced that it plans to distribute two packages of Academy Award-nominated shorts after Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 9.

The two packages — one comprising live-action and animated shorts, the other documentary shorts — will be released theatrically in 10 cities throughout the country, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, from Feb. 18-April 3. Additionally, all of the films will be screened for the press in those markets.

According to Strand execs, the shorts will unspool at what they referred to as “presentation-minded” theaters — such as Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in L.A. — and will screen in their proper film format.

Although the exact films that make up the two packages are not known yet because the nominations have not yet been announced, Strand execs are confident that they will be able to strike distribution deals with the various filmmakers, eager for exposure for their films.

“We hope to strengthen the economic underpinnings ofthis area of filmmaking,” said Strand partner Mike Thomas. “If we can generate revenue for these filmmakers, then they will continue making films in these areas.”

The move by Strand, which marks the first time that nominated shorts have been packaged and distributed nationally, is seen as a partial attempt to convince the Academy’s Board of Governors that there is a viable theatrical market for shorts — a fact that the Academy has disputed.

In November 1992, the Acad struck a major blow to makers of short films when they announced their decision to eliminate the documentary short and live-action short categories from Oscar competition beginning this year, saying that the awards for those categories “ceased to reflect the realities of theatrical motion-picture exhibition (Daily Variety, Nov. 19, 1992).

The decision by the Academy, which set off a firestorm of protest from the filmmaking community, was temporarily reversed less than a month later as the Board of Governors decided to delay for one year its decision (Daily Variety, Dec. 17, 1992).

The board has scheduled a meeting Tuesday, where it is expected they will make a final decision.

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