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Oscar clock ticking

Screening deadline looms

Makers of feature films wishing to qualify their pics for 1998 Academy Awards but which have not been screened at least seven days in Los Angeles County had better find a theater and do so — fast.

Filmmakers have until just before midnight on Thursday, New Year’s Eve, to begin the qualifying run, a requirement of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as it prepares for the upcoming awards show.

Reminder

Academy president Robert Rehme reminded filmmakers Monday that, to be eligible, feature-length motion pictures — defined as films more than 40 minutes in length — must be publicly exhibited in a commercial theater in L.A. County between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 1998. Films must be exhibited in 35mm or 70mm format before paying audiences for at least seven consecutive days.

A picture first publicly exhibited elsewhere in the U.S. prior to the required qualifying run in L.A. County will be eligible if the exhibition — excluding previews and film festivals — has occurred after Jan. 1, 1997, in a commercial movie theater. An eligible film cannot have appeared on TV before or during its qualifying Los Angeles run.

No surprises

“It isn’t unusual for films to begin their one-week qualifying run in the last few days of December,” Rehme said. “But don’t expect any surprise last-minute entries. Even though a movie may open that late in the year, the producer or distributor must have submitted the Academy’s official screen credits form by Dec. 1 for the film to be considered eligible for nomination.”

Pictures competing in the foreign language, documentary or short film categories must meet different requirements, as those films are viewed and nominated by special Academy screening groups.

Ballots will be mailed to voting members of the Academy on Jan. 8.

The 71st Academy Awards will be presented March 21 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. The show will be televised live by ABC, with a half-hour preshow segment beginning at 5 p.m. Pacific time.

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