The Saratoga Film Forum’s weekend Short-Film-o-Rama concludes on Sunday, February 26th, at 3 p.m. with the last of the three short film Oscar categories: Best Documentary (Short Subject).
This category was established at the 1941 Academy Awards. The very first Academy Award winner in the category should give you some idea of the impetus for creating it: “Churchill’s Island,” a document of the Allied defense of Great Britain during World War II. A year later, at the 1942 Academy Awards, the War accounted for all 25 films nominated—and four special awards presented—in the Documentary category that year. The War and its aftermath continued to dominate the Oscars for much of the rest of the decade, and then Korea took over in 1950. So if we find an emphasis on current events among this year’s nominees—“Incident in New Baghdad,” “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom,” e.g.—it’s nothing new.
By the way, as you watch this year’s shorts, you may be wondering what the criteria for short films are. Well, according to the Academy:
A short film is defined as an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.
This excludes from consideration such works as:
1. previews and advertising films
2. sequences from feature-length films such as credit sequences
3. unaired episodes of established TV series
4. unsold TV series pilots
The picture must have been publicly exhibited for paid admission in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a run of at least three consecutive days with at least two screenings a day. Films must be screened in 35mm or 70mm film or in a 24- or 48-frame progressive scan format with a minimum projector resolution of 2048 by 1080 pixels...
The film must have won a qualifying award at a competitive film festival, as specified in the Academy Festival List. Proof of the award must be submitted with the entry....
A student film may also qualify by winning a Gold Medal award in the Academy’s 2011 Student Academy Awards competition in the Animation, Narrative, Alternative, or Foreign Film award category. Winners in the Documentary category are not eligible.
A short film may not be exhibited publicly anywhere in any nontheatrical form, including but not limited to broadcast and cable television, home video, and Internet transmission, until after its Los Angeles theatrical release, or after receiving its festival or Student Academy Award. Excerpts of the film totaling no more than ten percent of its running time are exempted from this rule.
If you’re attending any of the Film Forum’s Oscar Comes Home parties or watching all by your lonesome, keep track of the winners—in the three Short Film categories, and/or in any or all of the other categories—this Sunday, February 26, kicking off at 7:00 p.m. on ABC. Visit the official Oscar site for more information than you may require, and even download a special Oscar iPhone and iPad app.