With awards season offering different twists and turns, some independent distributors are using this time of influx to get their films ahead of the fray. Variety has learned exclusively that Vertical Entertainment has submitted “Miss Juneteenth” — from writer and director Channing Godfrey Peoples — for Academy Awards consideration, and put it on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences streaming platform. This marks the first time that Vertical Entertainment has submitted a film on the Academy’s streaming platforms.

“Miss Juneteenth” has received critical acclaim this year after its theatrical and VOD release in June. The film hopes to navigate an Oscar season where many movies and performances are shifting out of the eligibility year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and theater closures. The film may be able to make some headway in categories like original screenplay, or it could be a dark horse entry for star Nicole Beharie in the acting category. At a time when inclusion and representation are increasingly becoming a hot topic for the Hollywood industry, the studio hopes “Miss Juneteenth” is considered a timely feature.

Vertical Entertainment was founded in 2012 by producers Rich Goldberg and Mitch Budin, and has been looking to become a major awards player for quite some time. Peter Jarowey, partner of Vertical Entertainment, said, “We are extremely proud to support ‘Miss Juneteenth’ by making Channing Godfrey People’s vital film and Nicole Beharie’s tremendous performance available to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”

The studio has had close calls in the awards recognition game with 2016’s “Other People,” a vehicle that came up short for Molly Shannon in supporting actress, and the psychological horror film “Under the Shadow,” which was submitted by the U.K. for best foreign language film in 2016 (now called best international feature).

“Miss Juneteenth” also stars Kendrick Sampson and Alexis Chikaeze, with cinematography by Daniel Patterson, editing by Courtney Wave and music composed by Emily Rice. The film is now available on the AMPAS streaming platform.