Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject)
|Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject)|
|Presented by||Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)|
|Currently held by||
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (2017)
This is a list of films by year that have received an Academy Award together with the other nominations for best documentary short subject. Following the Academy's practice, the year listed for each film is the year of release: the awards are announced and presented early in the following year.
Rules and eligibility
Per the recent rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), a Short Subject Documentary is defined as a nonfiction motion picture "dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects". It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact, and not on fiction. It must have a run time of no more than 40 minutes and released during a special eligibility period which may vary from year to year, but generally begins the month of September of the prior year and ends in August of award year. (This eligibility differs from most other Academy Award categories which only includes films released between January and December of the award year). The documentary's release must also occur within 2 years of the film's completion, and there are also rules governing the formatting of audio and video used to produce and exhibit the picture.
In addition, to be eligible the film must meet one of the following criteria:
- complete a commercial showing of at least 7 days in either Los Angeles County, California or the borough of Manhattan, New York before being released to other non-theatrical venues such as DVD or TV; or,
- regardless of any public exhibition or nontheatrical release the film must have won a qualifying award at a competitive film festival, as specified by the Academy; or
- win a Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal award in the Academy’s Student Academy Award Competition.
The film must run daily for 7 days, open to the public for paid admission, and must be advertised in one of the city's major circulars during its run. The film must have narration or dialogue primarily in English or with English subtitles, and must be the whole of an original works. Partial edits from larger works and episodes from serialized films are not eligible.
Eligibility rules for prior years may have differed from these.
The Documentary Branch of the Academy first votes to select ten pictures for preliminary nomination, after which a second round of balloting is conducted to select the five documentary nominees. The entire Academy membership will then vote for one of these five for the Oscar. A maximum of two people involved with the production of the documentary may be nominated for the award, one of whom must be the film's credited director. One producer may also be nominated, but if more than one non-director producer is credited the Academy Documentary Branch will vet the producers to select the one they believe was most involved in the creation of the film.
Winners and nominees
Individuals with multiple wins
Individuals with multiple nominations
- A preliminary list of 21 films were announced as nominees, but the Documentary Award Committee subsequently narrowed the field to 7 titles included on the final ballot. The 14 films that did not advance were: Bismarck Convoy Smashed (Australian Department of Information Film Unit), Day of Battle (United States Office of War Information Domestic Motion Picture Bureau), The Dutch Tradition (National Film Board of Canada), Kill or Be Killed (British Ministry of Information), The Labor Front (National Film Board of Canada), Land of My Mother (Polish Information Centre), Letter from Livingston (United States Army 4th Signal Photographic Unit), Life Line (United States Army Pictorial Service), The Rear Gunner (United States Department of War), Servant of a Nation (Union of South Africa), Task Force (United States Coast Guard), The Voice That Thrilled the World (Warner Bros.), Water, Friend or Enemy (Walt Disney), and Wings Up (United States Army Air Force 1st Motion Picture Unit).
- A press release issued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005 stated that "Documentary Short Subject winners Benjy (1951) and Neighbours (1952) are among a group of films that not only competed, but won Academy Awards in what were clearly inappropriate categories. Benjy, directed by Fred Zinnemann and narrated by Henry Fonda, is the fictional tale of a crippled boy. The film was used as a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital... Norman McLaren's Neighbours, which today would compete in the Animated Short category, used 'pixelation' – animation using living people – to create an allegory of war."
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
- "The Official Academy Awards Database". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
- "Oscar's Docs Resumes with Nature Documentaries". Oscars.org. Archived from the original on April 11, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
- "Academy Awards 2017: Complete list of Oscar winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. February 26, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
- Hipes, Patrick (January 23, 2018). "Oscar Nominations: 'The Shape Of Water' Leads Way With 13". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 23, 2018.