October 16, 2021


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Documentary filmmakers mourn Oscar and Emmy for ending double-dipping era

6 min read

“Boys State,” “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” “The Social Dilemma,” and “76 Days” all won Emmy during the Creative Arts show last weekend, but they shared another difference: these are the last documentaries to win a statue. Television Academy for the same nonfiction film that has successfully qualified for the Academy Award consideration.

The Television Academy closed the controversial practice of double-awarding earlier this year, concluding that, in early 2022, any documentary placed on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences viewing platform for Oscar shortlist consideration, would be treated as a theatrical motion. Ineligible for competition.

This simple rule is expected to have an impact on the big prize-season for documentaries and filmmakers. Diversity There are mixed feelings about it about the subject. For decades, documentary filmmakers and the companies that support their work have campaigned for the Emmy statue after the Little Gold Fight, and four Academy Award-winning documentaries from 2015 – “American Factory,” “Free Solo,” “Oz: Made America.” And “CitizenFour” has taken 10 Emmy after the Oscars, calling for a change in the rules.

On Sunday, Kirsten Johnson picked up an Emmy for Best Outstanding Nonfiction Management for “Dick Johnson Is Dead” – a category that doesn’t have an Academy Award. His films, such as “Boys State,” “The Social Dilemma” and “76 Days,” have been shortlisted by the AMPAS documentary but have not been nominated for the winning category by “The Octopus Teacher.”

His victory last weekend was particularly satisfying after both award campaigns.

“Being recognized as the best director really means a lot to me, and it’s only Emmy who is offering this section for that documentary,” Johnson told Variety. “We all hope that the Oscars will have more recognition for documentaries like movies, and that documentaries with all the craft categories will not just be in their silos.”

By stopping the double sinking, the TV Academy reminds documentary makers and the organizations that support their television roots. After all, there is no denying that docs are a product of television or digital platforms and in most cases not film studios. The Oscar feature documentary category would not exist without funding from small screen distributors such as HBO, PBS, A&E and streaming services including Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

“Emmy has always been a junior at the Oscars,” said documentary powerhouse Sheila Nevins, an HBO veteran who came out of retirement to head MTV documentary film, which won an Emmy for “76 Days” last weekend. “While you can get both, on the one hand, you can say, ‘Well, it improves Amy, but on the other hand, you can say that it diminishes the importance of the medium she’s performing.’

For distributors like HBO and Netflix, who publish countless docs each year, changing the rules can be a financial relief, as each film’s award campaign costs far more than their production budget. The new rule should theoretically help solve an ongoing problem – the number of filmmakers and companies that have qualified for the Oscars. This year 238 films have qualified for Oscar consideration.

“I think it will reduce the number of Oscar qualifiers,” said Liz Garbas, a two-time Academy Award nominee who won an Emmy for “What Happened, Miss Simon” after her Oscar nomination and is now becoming “Costo” in the fall festival circuit. ”As a member of the AMPAS documentary branch, we see a lot of films that haven’t been released on the right stage that people only qualify for a lark. So I think this new rule will change that equation. ”

But experienced dock directors Sam Pollard and John Hoffman are not so sure. They argue that non-fiction filmmakers want the same thing as narrative filmmakers: their film will be seen in a movie hall with the audience.

“For those of us in business, we all want an Oscar,” says Pollard, director of Citizen Ashe and MLK / FBI, an Academy Award nominee and three Emmy winners, two of whom are “When The Lewis Brock: A Request in Four Act.” “We all want to get an Emmy, but we all want that Oscar – that’s the brass ring. Amy is icing on the cake.”

“Any filmmaker who aspires to release a play is not going to decide whether or not to get a drama opportunity because of the Emmy rule,” added Hoffman, who has won four Emmy and co-directed and produced “Fausy.”

Nevins says that if he had been forced to choose between submitting the Covid documentary “76 Days” for an Oscar or Emmy consideration, he would have simply submitted the film to AMPAS – but he doesn’t think “76 Days” is a necessary drama experience.

“I never went to the EMD because I thought this doc shot better with AMPAS voters because it was in the international interest rather than the national interest,” Nevins explained in the context of the 76-day “EMI victory” with exceptional merit in the documentary section. “I think it would be better in an international department like the Oscars than to do something more specific like the TV Academy’s Emmis.”

Going forward, Nevins noted that the new rule is good news for The News and Documentary Emmy Award, which will receive AMPAS-eligible Docs.

Lisa Nishimura, VP of Netflix’s independent film and documentary feature, says the new rules will not change the way streaming services work with documentaries for the awards season.

“This new rule makes it another thing for us (the filmmakers) to talk and understand what the hopes and aspirations for that particular filmmaker and their story are,” Nishimura said. “We will always have conversations that are open and transparent, and then build our campaigns accordingly to support that vision.”

Television distributors and streamers like Netflix typically rent a theater for a week or two যা a strategy known as the “four walls” নাটকthe dramatically qualifying their documents for Oscar consideration. Outlets often do “vanity four-wall” to please a director, but the TV Academy’s new rule could shut it down due to the loss of Amy consideration and the high cost of multiple films on four walls.

That said, four-walls will exist because documentaries have always had a difficult time securing theater venues, and without four walls there would reasonably be only a handful of documentaries that meet AMPAS qualification requirements.

“Four Walls puts films that don’t fit in theaters,” Johnson said. “If you don’t go around going to the theater without these four walls and that experience can be amazing, you will be under a lot of pressure. But I think it’s going even further towards the festival, because we have a meaningful audience in a movie theater to watch our films that are out of the mainstream. ”

Meanwhile, the digital audience for Docs is growing steadily, creating a desire to nominate only those Docs with AMPAS’s legitimate drama release Desire.

“This Ruby has the rules of the Goldberg series, which means a movie is a drama movie,” said Alex Gibbon, the 2008 Oscar winner for “Taxi to the Dark Side.” (A documentary) Is this a good movie in a theater or on television for so long? “

Nevins argues that the new rules of the TV academy should be forgotten. He said, “Let people struggle in their own way to get their films wherever they want. You want to try to get both, go behind both an Oscar and an Emmy. If you want to get one, go get one. You don’t want to get anything. You won’t get any. This rule will probably change next year.

For now, Vinnie Malhotra, show-time executive vice president of nonfiction programming, thinks the TV Academy’s new rules will eventually change the landscape of the document.

“I think it will start to determine what each academy is actually looking for,” Malhotra said. “There are some types of documentaries that are naturally more appealing to television academy voters than to voters in the AMPAS dock branch. So, I think we’ll start watching it. But I don’t want it to be a TV dock and it’s a theater dock. Unfortunately, this May be a by-product of the process.

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