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Oscars: New Rules Bar Multi-Part Documentaries Like ‘O.J.: Made in America’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has barred multi-part and limited series from the best documentary feature category.

AMPAS announced the new rules for the upcoming 90th Annual Academy Awards on Friday. The change would have prevented this year’s winner in the category — Ezra Edelman’s ” O.J.: Made In America” series — from taking the Oscar. The eight-hour documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year, showed in limited qualifying theatrical runs in Los Angeles and New York before being broadcast as a five-part series on ABC and ESPN.

AMPAS did not single out “O.J.: Made in America” in Friday’s announcement, which reads: “In the documentary categories, multi-part or limited series are not eligible for awards consideration. The Documentary Branch Executive Committee will resolve all questions of eligibility and rules.”

“O.J.: Made in America,” directed by Edelman and produced by Caroline Waterlow, topped a strong field at the 89th Academy Awards, including immigrant story “Fire At Sea,” autism story “Life, Animated,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” based on James Baldwin’s writings, and Ava DuVernay’s race relations exploration “13th.”

“O.J.: Made in America” is the longest-running film ever nominated for an Oscar. It also won at the Spirit Awards, the DGA, the PGA and the International Documentary Assn., while “13th” won at BAFTA.

The film is an analysis of race and celebrity in America through the story of accused murderer O.J. Simpson, tracks Simpson’s career as a football star; the history of race relations in Los Angeles; the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman; his subsequent acquittal; and how he was imprisoned for another crime more than a decade later.

The AMPAS board also announced Friday that for the first time, nominations voting in the animated feature film category will be opened up to the entire eligible voting membership.

“Invitations to join the nominating committee will be sent to all active Academy members, rather than a select craft-based group,” the Academy said. “Voting in the nominations round will now be preferential instead of based on a numerical scoring system. Members participating on the nominating committee may view films in their theatrical runs or at other screenings, through the Academy’s streaming site or on DVDs/screeners to qualify to vote.”

The Academy also announced two rule changes that may expand the number of nominees in the Best Picture and Original Score categories. In the Best Picture category, the revised rule states that a team of two people can be considered a single producer;  the Music Branch will now allow a film score written by three or more “equally contributing” composers to be nominated.

 

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