After a long debate about the flaws in the old, new and recently revised rules, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has stepped forward to put an end to the difficulties surrounding the Documentary Oscar and proposed a system that simply applies the same rules to this category of films as it does to all the other branches.
Speaking to The Wrap, documentarian Michael Moore said: “Instead of making one fix after another, how about no rules?
“What I’m going to propose is that instead of going back to the drawing board and making up new rules, let’s just put an end to that right now. No more special documentary rules. How about we play by the same rules as every other branch?”
In the exclusive interview with the online film magazine Moore said that the approach would mean that documentaries would qualify for the Oscars under the same rules as other films – standards which are less restrictive than the regulations set out by the documentary branch of the Academy.
In recent years the Academy came under a lot of pressure from fellows and critics who often came out saying the rules were seriously flawed, and didn’t always allow for the best films to even get a nomination. It was in fact Moore who gave the Academy a final push to revise their approach. But as soon as the Academy announced the new rules for judging the Oscar contenders for Best Documentary at the end of last year the debate flared up again; were these rules better, worse or equally incompetent? After the debacle of two weeks ago, when the members of the Academy received an additional 80 documentaries to watch in the space of a mere three weeks, an answer to that question seems to have been found.
Now Moore proposes that, instead of making additional changes, the best approach is to stop worrying and follow the rules as set out by the other branches. This would mean more flexibility and chance of eligibility through the demands regarding qualifying runs, reviews or TV movies vs. theatrical docs. Feature films for example only require a one-week run in Los Angeles, not, as is currently the case with documentaries, a one week run in L.A. and one in New York.
“Instead of making one fix after another, how about no rules?” Moore told The Wrap. “We should abide by the rules that every other branch has to abide by. And we should leave it up to the Academy staff to decide if films qualify, the same way they decide for every fiction film.”
In the article the filmmaker said he has already talked about his proposal to Academy CEO and COO Dawn Hudson and Ric Robertson and said he had their support. Some of his fellow documentary branch governors and a few members also apparently welcomed his plan. The next step for Moore is to propose the change to the doc branch’s executive committee, if approved he would then have to take it to the Academy’s board of governors.
Moore said: ”I think the counter-intuitive nature of it might actually be the solution. And everybody loved the idea of not having to read any more articles about the documentary branch coming up with another new rule.
“The executive committee may say, ‘When we changed the rules last year, we decided to give it two or three years. Let’s stick with that,’” he said. “Or they may say, ‘You’re right, why not?’ I think that sometime within the next year or two, this is what we should do.”