Oscars Expand Shortlist For International Film Contenders To 15, Eliminate Executive Committee “Saves”

In another move due to complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, sources tell Deadline that there are some key changes to the process of shortlisting potential nominees for the International Feature Film category (formerly Best Foreign Language Film).

Instead of the main committee of volunteers from all branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences choosing their seven top picks, with the much smaller International Film Executive Committee then adding three more titles — thus creating a shortlist of 10 films to later be pared to the actual five nominees in the category — the main committee will now be doing all the work in phase one of the voting for the year, with an expanded lineup of their top 15 choices ostensibly designed to make up the difference in the elimination of the exec committees “saves,” as they have come to be known.

This is a return closer to the way nominees were chosen in the past before controversy over omissions of some major worldwide hits such as 2002’s City of God, and Romania’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days among others, created credibility problems for AMPAS and forced the change to allowing the Academy’s Exec Committee to make sure the best of world cinema was not overlooked by the larger committee. The Academy doesn’t reveal what its three “saves” are and mixes them in with the rest — but now for this year at least it is a moot point.

On February 9 there will be one unified expanded list of shortlisted International contenders announced (along with other categories such as music, shorts and documentaries), eliminating the exec committee’s input. This is due to fear of bringing that committee to a meeting in person, but also risking leaks if it were to be done virtually. Apparently this is thought to be Oscar’s only way out in this category this year, but how it will affect those that do (and don’t) get shortlisted is anyone’s guess.

The good news is that of the 93 films entered in the race this year there really aren’t a lot of glaring frontrunners that can be “snubbed”; it is the most open field in years.

Phase two of the process will take place between March 5-10 and all eligible members of the Academy are allowed to vote from the shortlisted semifinalists as long as they testify they have seen all of those still in the running.

Here is all the updated official Academy rules of eligibility in the International category, amended as of Tuesday:


The unprecedented coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic mandated the closure of commercial motion
picture theaters worldwide. Until further notice and for the 93rd Awards year only, country selected films
that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available through a reputable
commercial streaming distribution service or video on demand may qualify for awards consideration in the
International Feature category for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions:
• Provide to The Academy documentation (original document(s) and an English translation) of
government mandated theater/cinema closure dates, previously planned theatrical release and
steaming distribution or video on demand agreements.
• The film be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days
of the film being officially selected;
• That it meets all other eligibility requirements.
When theaters reopen in accordance with national and local specified guidelines and criteria, and on a
date to be determined by the Academy, this rules exemption will no longer apply. All films released
thereafter will be expected to comply with the standard International Feature Film category theatrical
qualifying requirements.
In order for films to more easily meet theatrical exhibition requirements, the Academy will allow
films to qualify outside the country of origin, provided the film is theatrically exhibited outside of the
United States and its territories for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater
for paid admission. The International Feature Executive Committee will evaluate all matters of rules and
Film festivals have been impacted by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Participation in an impacted
festival’s online/virtual platform will not affect a films’ eligibility for awards consideration provided the
festival has a transactional pay wall or password-protected entry. Film festival participation does not
qualify a film in the International Feature Film category. Films must comply with all other eligibility
requirements for the 93rd Academy Awards.
Due to the global pandemic caused by coronavirus/COVID-19, all dates and matters of rules and
eligibility for the 93rd Academy Awards are subject to change based on national guidelines, statemandated government orders and Academy determined-best practices.
An international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (over 40 minutes) produced outside the
United States of America and its territories with a predominantly (more than 50%) non-English dialogue
track. Animated and documentary feature films are permitted.
1. The country-selected film must be first released in the country of origin no earlier than October 1,
2019, and no later than December 31, 2020, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven
consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.
Submissions must be in 35mm or 70mm film, or in a 24- or 48-frame progressive scan Digital Cinema
format with a minimum projector resolution of 2048 by 1080 pixels, source image format conforming
to ST 428-1:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master – Image Characteristics; image compression (if
used) conforming to ISO/IEC 15444-1 (JPEG 2000); and image and sound files packaged as Digital
Cinema Packages (DCPs) in either “Interop” or “SMPTE DCP” formats. SMPTE DCP refers to
SMPTE ST 429-2 and related specifications. (Blu-ray format does not meet Digital Cinema
Amended January 12, 2021, Board approved.
The audio in a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is typically 5.1 or 7.1 channels of discrete audio. The
minimum for a non-mono configuration of the audio shall be three channels as Left, Center, Right (a
Left/Right configuration is not acceptable in a theatrical environment). In addition to channel-based
audio, object-based audio may also be present as an immersive audio bitstream.
The audio data shall be formatted in conformance with ST 428-2:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master
– Audio Characteristics and ST 428-12:2013 D-Cinema Distribution Master Common Audio Channels
and Soundfield Groups. Immersive audio, if present, shall be formatted in conformance with ST
2098-2:2019 Immersive Audio Bitstream Specification.
2. The film must be advertised and exploited during its qualifying theatrical release in a manner
considered normal and customary to theatrical feature distribution practices. The film need not have
been released in the United States.
3. Films that, in any version, receive a nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution before their
first qualifying theatrical release will not be eligible for Academy Awards consideration.
Nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution includes but is not limited to:
• Broadcast and cable television
• DVD distribution
• Inflight airline distribution
• Internet transmission
4. The recording of the original dialogue track as well as the completed picture must be predominantly
(more than 50%) in a language or languages other than English. ACCURATE, LEGIBLE ENGLISHLANGUAGE SUBTITLES ARE REQUIRED.
5. The submitting country must certify that creative control of the film was largely in the hands of citizens
or residents of that country.
6. The International Feature Film Executive Committee shall resolve all questions of eligibility and rules.
1. Each country shall be invited to submit its best film to the Academy. Selection of that film shall be
made by one approved organization, jury or committee that should include artists and/or craftspeople
from the field of motion pictures. A list of the selection committee members must be submitted to the
Academy no later than MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2020 or by the submission deadline published by the
Academy. Countries submitting for the first time, or which have not submitted for the previous five
years, must present a list of selection committee members and application materials for Academy
approval by Thursday, December 31, 2020, for eligibility in the following (94th) Awards year. A
country need not submit a film every year for awards consideration.
2. Only one film will be accepted from each country as the official selection. Films can be
submitted to the Academy as soon as they are selected.
3. The Academy will provide online access to each country’s approved selection committee so that the
producer of the selected film can supply full production information.
4. The following submission materials must be submitted to the Academy and must be received by 5
p.m. PT on Tuesday, December 1, 2020:
**SPECIAL NOTICE: Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, and for the health and safety of our staff, members and guests,
Academy offices will remain closed through the end of the year. Staff will continue to work remotely. The processing of mail
Amended January 12, 2021, Board approved.
and parcels will be delayed. Submitters are highly encouraged to provide the required awards materials electronically at
• Completed online submission forms
• ONE 35mm or 70mm film print or DCP with accurate, legible English-language subtitles. The
print or DCP submitted for Awards consideration must be identical in content and length to the
print or DCP used in the film’s qualifying theatrical release.
• Digital upload of the film for streaming purposes
• 50 DVDs of the entry, without trailers or other extraneous material, capable of playing on Region
0/NTSC standard definition DVD players. DVDs must be in individual paper sleeves and must
include the film title, running time and country only. No artwork, promotional material, contact
information, company name or film logo is acceptable on the DVD labels or sleeves.
• Full cast and credits list
• Director’s biography, filmography and photograph
• 3 to 5 representative film stills, including a designated key frame
• A poster from the film’s theatrical release
• Proof of advertising for the film’s qualifying theatrical release
5. Film prints, DCPs and DVDs submitted will be retained by the Academy throughout the voting
process and are not available for loan. By submitting a film, the filmmaker agrees that the
Academy has the right to make copies and distribute them for voting purposes only. The Academy
will retain for its archives one print of every motion picture receiving a nomination for the International
Feature Film award. Additional prints and DCPs of those films receiving nominations will be returned
to the sender at the Academy’s expense.
1. International Feature Film nominations will be determined in two rounds of voting:
a. The International Feature Film Preliminary Voting Committee will view the eligible submissions in
the category and vote by secret ballot to produce a shortlist of fifteen films.
b. The International Feature Film Nominating Committee must view the fifteen shortlisted films and
vote by secret ballot to determine the category’s five nominees.
2. Final voting for the International Feature Film award shall be restricted to active and life Academy
members who have viewed all five nominated films.
3. The Academy statuette (Oscar) will be awarded to the film and accepted by the director on behalf of
the film’s creative talents. For Academy Awards purposes, the country will be credited as the
nominee. The director’s name will be listed on the statuette plaque after the country and film title.
1. In addition to complying with the Awards Rules for the 93rd Academy Awards, all participants in the
Awards competition are also bound by the Academy Campaign Regulations concerning the
promotion of eligible films and are subject to the penalties provided therein, including the potential
declaration of ineligibility by the Board of Governors for violation of those guidelines. The Regulations
can be found at Oscars.org/regulations.
1. International Feature Film submissions may be submitted for consideration for the 93rd Academy
Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they comply with the rules governing those categories.

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