India Really Doesn’t Have an ‘Official’ Short Film Oscar Entry

Several media outlets have reported that Shameless in India’s official entry for the Oscars.

Updated
Indian Cinema
3 min read
There is no federation that selects a short film as India’s official entry to the Oscars.
i

There have been quite a few reports in the media about a short film titled Shameless being ‘selected as India’s official entry to the Oscars in the short film category’. However, unlike in the case for feature films, where the Film Federation of India selects a film to represent India at the Academy Awards each year, there is no federation that formally selects an Indian short film to compete for the Oscars. It would be misleading to term any film that merely qualifies to compete in the live-action short film category for the Academy Awards as an ‘official entry’.

Several media outlets including The Indian Express, India Today, Zee and DNA have reported that filmmaker Keith Gomes’ Shameless has been selected as India’s ‘official entry’ without naming which body or panel or selection committee actually selected the film as ‘India’s entry’.

Several media platforms have wrongly reported that <i>Shameless </i>is India’s official entry to the Oscars in the short film category.
Several media platforms have wrongly reported that Shameless is India’s official entry to the Oscars in the short film category.

Basically, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a set of rules according to which a film (of up 40 minutes running time) may qualify to compete in the best live-action short film category. These include parameters such as that the film should have opened in theaters in at least one of the six qualifying US cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta or that the film must have won a qualifying award at a competitive film festival and so on.

So any film that meets the Academy’s set requirements becomes automatically ‘eligible’ to compete in the live-action short film category at the Oscars. This is year because of the pandemic, the Academy has made slight changes in the eligibility criteria, that have mostly to do with the online screening of films at festivals and streaming on films on VoD services.

A screenshot from the Academy’s rules for short film awards.
A screenshot from the Academy’s rules for short film awards.

Filmmaker Shaan Vyas, whose short film Natkhat featuring Vidya Balan is in the running for the live-action short film category at the Oscars confirms that there is no official entry from India for short films. “The films that have made it currently including mine are all in the large pool of the 200-300 odd films from all around the world that will compete for the top 5. Compete as in, active and life members of the Academy who have viewed all of the short films can eventually vote for them,” he clarifies.

“I'm surprised at reports as in fact, Natkhat won "best film" at Best of India Short Film Festival, and is eligible for Oscar qualification and very much in the race to the Oscars 2021. The Oscar Shortlists Announcement only comes out in Feb 2021," said Shaan reacting to the news reports of Shameless declared as India’s official entry.

So, without taking away the merits of any of the films that are in the race for the 93rd Academy Awards, it is misleading to position any short film as being ‘India’s entry’ or having been ‘selected as India’s official entry’ or to blindly report it as such. For now, here’s looking forward to the list of nominations early next year.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Published: 
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!