Another shakeup is coming to the Oscars and it’s not just a name change.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced this week that voting for the five nominees for Best International Feature Film (formerly Foreign Language Film) will be open to all active members of the Academy after the 10-film shortlist is announced on December 16. This is one of many shifts the branch has gone through recently to ostensibly make the category less insular.
While the general selection committee will still choose the shortlist of seven films, with an executive committee choosing three “saves” that might go overlooked.
In a letter sent to all voters, “This Oscars season, for the first time, we will invite all Academy members to opt in to vote on nominations for the International Feature category,” the letter said, “The shortlisted films will be made available to all Academy members to stream on the Academy Screening Room platform via the member site and our new Apple TV 4 app. In addition, the shortlisted films will be screened theatrically in Los Angeles, London and New York during nominations voting.”
In years past, the IFF branch had a labyrinthine selection process involving volunteers from other branches, multiple screenings in Los Angeles, New York City and London and a three-color coding system that determined which films you would see.
The letter concluded saying, “Just a reminder, the 92nd Oscars are February 9, 2020 — two weeks earlier than usual. Due to the accelerated schedule, the voting periods for both nominations and finals are shorter than in the past, and we want to make sure every member has the opportunity to see the shortlisted films and participate.” This year, to help increase viewing, those films will be available on the Academy’s secure members’ website.
“Last year we allowed international members to stream films on the shortlist,” said International Feature Film co-chair Larry Karaszewski. “That went so well, and we already have the system set up for streaming, that we’ve decided to open up the short list to all Academy members everywhere.” Karaszewski’s co-chair, Diane Weyermann, added that the change was also being made in recognition of the shorter voting period necessitated by an Oscar show that is taking place two weeks earlier than usual.
“We’re doing it with a very, very tight nomination voting period,” she said. “We will still have theatrical screenings of the 10 shortlisted films in L.A. and New York and London, but not everyone is going to be able to see those 10 films in a theater. People that may have seen all of the films except one, but maybe they’re not around on that one day for the screening — if we didn’t allow the streaming to happen, they wouldn’t be able to vote.”
The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced on January 13, 2020.