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Shorts list getting longer

Thirty-nine pix entered for this year's race

Despite concerns over the past decade about the health and future of the animated short subject category, Oscar’s shorts list is in its best health in years.

Thirty-nine animated shorts were entered for this year’s Oscar race and 37 were accepted, according to Jon Bloom, chair of the Academy’s short films and feature animation branch executive committee. That’s up 10 over last year, and six above 2002’s tally.

“We’re broadening our reach to festivals,” Bloom says. “That helps publicize the Academy competition, and maybe that’s helping bolster our numbers a little bit.”

Unlike the feature animation category, for which entries must have a qualifying run in Los Angeles, animated shorts can also hit the festival circuit in lieu of a three-day screening schedule.

“We have about 60 of the top worldwide festivals for shorts, or full festivals that honor shorts like Sundance and Cannes, and the winners of those are also eligible for Oscar consideration,” Bloom says.

During the heyday of the seven-minute cartoon, the animated shorts category was dominated by Hollywood product. But starting in the late 1960s, it became a far more international concern.

This year’s entries once again ran the global gamut. They include everything from Dutch animator Hisko Hulsing’s “Seventeen” to Warner Bros.’ homegrown “Daffy Duck for President,” a classically animated short based on the 1997 book by the late cartoon master Chuck Jones.

The committee has selected 10 semifinalists, though committee members and AMPAS brass are tightlipped as to what the titles are.

These 10 will be screened in January for review committee members in L.A., San Francisco and New York, and the final five nominees will be selected.

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