The Directors Guild of America announced Monday that Frank Darabont, Mike Newell, Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Zemeckis have been nominated for the org’s award for outstanding achievement in motion picture direction.

The DGA saw no reason to exclude from eligibility non-member Tarantino, whose “Pulp Fiction” is a fave with critics and is considered a top contender to bag several Oscar nominations.

Selection of first-time nominee Darabont for his work on “The Shawshank Redemption” also came as something of a surprise. Pic was a Castle Rock Entertainment production, distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Tarantino was denied a WGA nomination for outstanding screenplay because he isn’t a member of the union (Daily Variety, Jan. 20).

DGA president Gene Reynolds said membership in the helmers guild has no bearing on whether a director is nominated.

“I respect the Writers Guild decision. They just feel it should go to members,” Reynolds said at a news conference Monday at the DGA headquarters. “Our feeling is that we’re cutting something off if we draw a line. Our policy is to recognize excellence.”

This also is Tarantino’s first DGA award nomination. “Pulp Fiction,” which won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or, is released by Miramax Films.

Zemeckis was included for “Forrest Gump” from Paramount. It will be his second nomination after a 1988 nod for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Zemeckis on Saturday night won the Golden Globe for directing.

Newell, who directed the Gramercy Pictures sleeper “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” was also a first-time nominee.

Redford, who won the DGA award in 1980 for “Ordinary People” (he won the directing Oscar for the same film), was named for “Quiz Show,” which was released by Hollywood Pictures.

Reynolds acknowledged that a number of worthy directors did not make the nomination cut.

The 47th annual DGA awards will be presented March 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Guild spokesman Chuck Warn said the nominees were the top five vote-getters on a ballot listing all the feature releases for 1994 that went to the guild’s 10,000 members. The members will now receive a separate ballot with the five nominees to pick an overall winner.

The DGA prides itself as a relatively accurate precursor to the Oscars. Only three times since 1949 has the winner of the DGA Award failed to win the best director Oscar.

In 1968, Anthony Harvey won the DGA trophy for “The Lion in Winter,” while Carol Reed’s “Oliver” took home the Oscar. Four years later, the DGA chose Francis Ford Coppola for “The Godfather,” while Oscar went dancing with Bob Fosse for “Cabaret.”

Then in 1985, the DGA opted for Steven Spielberg for “The Color Purple,” while the Academy preferred Sydney Pollack for “Out of Africa.” Spielberg went on to cop his own DGA Award last year for “Schindler’s List,” then won the Academy Award.

Regarding Tarantino, Reynolds said the DGA had given nominations to other non-members in past years, including Jane Campion last year for “The Piano.”

Tarantino reportedly refused to join both the WGA and the DGA over the desire to place his credits where he wanted. Union contract rules in both guilds stipulate the placement of writing and directing credits on the print of the film.

Reynolds said the director’s name is usually placed as the last credit before the film begins. “It has taken us 20 to 30 years to achieve that visibility,” he said.

The guild also announced that a symposium of DGA feature film nominees would take place 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on March 11 at DGA headquarters.

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