France’s Film Board Confirms Changes to Oscar Eligibility Rules

France’s National Film Board (CNC), the organization tasked with establishing rules for the selection of French films submitted for Oscar consideration, has confirmed the shake-up of guidelines going forward.

Under the new rules, films will be allowed to have limited, qualifying runs ahead of their official theatrical premiere if they get a temporary visa from CNC. This will enable some films that are scheduled for release in the winter to be submitted by the Sept. 30 deadline and considered by the Oscar committee. The limited runs will have to take place over seven consecutive days. The previous guideline required movies to be commercially released in France on dozens of screens by Sept. 30.

These changes will allow movies that are launching at fall festivals, such as Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian, to be considered by the Oscar committee.

“Thanks to this evolution, the selection committee will have more films to choose from – including some of those who will come out during the fall — to find the ideal film to represent French cinema in this prestigious race,” said the CNC’s president Frédérique Bredin.

The CNC has also revised the make up of its Oscar committee with the inclusion of six industry professionals, two filmmakers, two producers and two international sales executives who will be named each year by the minister of culture, counselled by the CNC.

Although some industry insiders believed Cannes’s artistic director Thierry Fremaux would leave his seat to another member of the Cannes Film Festival, the revered movie buff has decided to remain on the committee, along with the president of UniFrance (currently Serge Toubiana), and the president of the Cesar (Alain Terzian).

Bredin said the org had decided to “change the make up of the commission in order to integrate more professionals who have an acute knowledge of the American market.

2019 has already fielded one of the strongest editions for French movies in decades with Cannes prize-winning films such as Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and Ladj Ly’s feature debut “Les Miserables” in the mix to be selected. Francois Ozon’s “By The Grace of God,” the winner of the Berlin’s Silver Bear Award, is another strong contender.

The new commission will meet at the CNC during the second week of September. The 2020 Oscars ceremony will take place Feb. 9.

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