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Streaming Films Eligible For Best Picture Oscar Due To COVID-19

julia reichert steve bognar
Jordan Strauss
Invision, AP
Yellow Springs filmmakers Jeff Reichert, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, pose with their Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, after winning the award for best documentary feature for 'American Factory,' which was only distributed on Netflix.

An unprecedented one-time "temporary exception" has been made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to allow movies initially made available via streaming or video on-demand to compete for best picture at next year's Oscars.

"The historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules," Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson wrote in a statement, according to National Public Radio.

Movie theaters were closed, and most film festivals canceled, due to the coronavirus. Hollywood studios also have postponed releases for their major spring and summer films.

The Academy officials stressed their commitment to the theatrical experience for filmmakers: "We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever." CNN reported that "the Academy has faced pressure to relax its rules as Netflix, especially, pushes for inclusion in the awards competition."

The 93rd annual Academy Awards are scheduled for Feb. 28 next year. However, CNN noted that the Academy said "additional changes" might be necessary "based on national guidelines, state-mandated government orders and Academy-determined best practices."

Here's the story by NPR's Mandalit del Barco, "Academy Awards Eligibility Rules Change Due to COVID-19."