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October 19, 2009


David H.

In reference to Steve Pond's piece, I thought the Academy implemented the theatrical run to prevent this type of thing from happening. Now it's potentially honoring films that have already aired or will be airing on cable TV. As Pond points out, this is why we have the Emmy Awards. This is almost as bad as the Mitchell Block fiasco several years ago. While Mrs. Nevins may not be on the nominating committee she is an at large Academy member. What is her influence within the Academy? Why wouldn't HBO or Mrs. Nevins comment on Pond's piece?

I don't want to cheapen the short subject category because I think it's one of the best opportunities for independent filmmakers' work to get exposure. However, it seems that the category, in the past few years at least, has become a documentary filmmaker's backdoor to earning a nomination or winning an Oscar. Cynthia Wade admitted that she made "Freeheld" a short because it was "easier" to get a nomination for an Academy Award. I belive this cheapens the award, the honor, and the format. Frankly, I think her film could have benefited from being a longer film.

It appears that seasond filmmakers who want an Oscar are making films that should be features only to get an Academy Award. I've noticed this since the Academy started publishing the number of films that qualify in the category each year (this year there were 37 as opposed to the 90 or so features last year). There was a time when it was not uncommon for a 45 or 50 minute film to be nominated in the feature category. Now, it's unheard of.

There is nothing wrong with this; it’s just an observation on my part. Yet, it leasds me to wonder if filmmakers really need the validation of an Oscar to prove their work is good? It's no secret and has been discussed a lot that the Academy has made some bad choices over the years.

I'm glad that Steve Pond brought attention to this. I have been following this trend for several years now. It must be very discouraging to those filmmakers who spend money screening their films in LA and NYC to qualify only to be pushed out by HBO. I guess it's fair since HBO is following the same rules as everyone. However, the Academy should be ashamed of themselves since they seem to be asking filmmakers to jump thorough hoops to avoid television and internet transmition in order to qualify, but shortlising films that have aired already.

I think we put way too much emphasis on the Academy Awards (myself included). Look at how much time is spent on this blog alone discussing the topic (myself included). Do we really need the Academy (a private club made up of 6,000 members) to dominate what is going on the world of documentary filmmaking? I think it's time turn things arond and start honoring the work of documentry filmmakers in other ways (Cinema Eye Honors being just one). The Oscar broadcast hardly even give documentary films any air time at the ceremony anyway.

I hope some others will chime in on this.

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