Academy members will allow all members to nominate international films

The Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences has changed voting protocols for one of its most complicated categories, Best International Feature – known until last year as Best Foreign Language Film.

Announcements were sent to various branches on Thursday alerting members to a change in category rules – which will significantly open the vote on which shortlisted films will ultimately become Oscar nominees.

The first voting phase is a preliminary round in which the International Feature Films Committee selects the 93 candidates submitted for review. From there, a short list of 10 films is selected (previously nine) and ultimately narrowed down to five nominees. The new changes now stipulate that any Academy member who has seen the 10 shortlisted films can vote for any nominees.

In addition, the Academy is moving more and more towards a streaming system for voters. Members who screen the 10 shortlisted international films will be qualified to vote in the second phase, overturning a previous rule that candidates had to be seen in theaters. The first phase of voting technically only provides seven shortlist entries. The AMPAS executive committee, made up of around 30 members, completes the list with three additional titles (generally perceived as bold or unusual choices),

The organization recently announced that it will be releasing additional titles for review. Voters can already stream documentaries, animated films and short films on the Academy’s viewing site. Narrative features are now available through the Academy Screening Room app.

An insider with knowledge of the Academy said the changes encourage a bigger global footprint in the best category of international features. The individual estimated that 20% of AMPAS members are located outside of the United States.

Darcy J. Skinner

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