No. I am not talking about the Foreign Language category. I am talking about the Best Film category – the category in which Slumdog Millionaire won the Oscar Award this year.
How? Read on till the end.
The Eligibility criteria for a film to be nominated for the Oscars are clearly laid out on this page. A first glance at the page reveals something very interesting.
**Nowhere does it mention that the film has to be in the English language!
In fact, Paragraph 8 clearly states:
“Motion pictures from all countries shall be eligible for the annual awards listed in Rule One Paragraph 3, as long as they satisfy the requirements of the other applicable rules, and contain English-language subtitles if released in a foreign language.”
That’s not all! There’s more!
Paragraph 2 of Rule 2 might cause a few problems actually. Condensed down to the basics it means:
“A film, that runs for more than 40 minutes, is eligible for an entry to the Oscar Nominations as long as it runs in a commercial theater in the Los Angeles county for at least seven days and is properly advertised before-hand.”
So what’s stopping us?
Rule 3, more or less. :)
The essence of Rule 3 is that, the Los Angeles run must happen between the 1st of January to the 31st of December in a specific year and no other theatrical runs are allowed – competitive or otherwise. And this is where it gets kinda complicated. Here’s Paragraph 3 of Rule 3, verbatim:
A picture first theatrically exhibited outside the U.S. prior to the Los Angeles qualifying run shall be eligible for submission provided the prior exhibition takes place in a commercial motion picture theater after January 1, 2007, with the following further conditions:
- the film may not be exhibited publicly in any nontheatrical form for a 90-day period following the commencement of its initial theatrical engagement, and
- after the 90-day period, the film may play in nontheatrical forms provided they are outside the U.S. (No film that is shown inside the U.S. in any nontheatrical form prior to its qualifying Los Angeles run shall be eligible for Academy Awards.)
Kinda confusing, isn’t it? But, this is what I make of it in the Indian context. Correct me if I am wrong:
If a full-length Indian feature film, (properly subtitled) were to theatrically release in India this year, and next year, release exclusively in the Los Angeles County (after proper advertisement and marketing) on a commercial theater run for a period of at least 7 days and no other theatrical engagement for the total period of 90 days, then the film qualifies for an entry to the Oscars!
So, technically, if an Indian film made in 2009 – say Dev.D – were to release exclusively in the Los Angeles county this year – ensuring that no other theatrical runs happen anywhere else during that exhibition period – Dev.D could, might, possibly, maybe, qualify to win an Oscar!
With big bucks like Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, etc entering the Indian market, has the American Dream suddenly become achievable? ;)