Emmys welcome documentaries that first contended for Oscars: ‘Cartel Land,’ ‘He Named Me Malala’ …

How is it that six of this year’s 15 documentary features to make the shortlist at the Oscars are now in contention at the Emmys? Turns out that wrinkles in the rules for these top kudos in their respective fields allow savvy producers to be eligible for both awards.

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To qualify for the Oscars, a documentary feature must play for at least one week in both Los Angeles and New York cinemas, have at least four screenings per day with at least one of those in the evening, be advertised in at least one major newspaper in each city and be reviewed in either of the New York or Los Angeles Times.

Rule 10 of the eligibility criteria for the Emmys explicitly precludes “television programs that are offered for general theatrical exhibition occurring prior to their airing or Internet exhibition.” However, this rule goes on to note that “General theatrical release shall not include either or both:

(A) exhibitions made for purposes of fulfilling Award requirements (e.g. festival Awards, the Oscars) if such exhibition occurs only at one or more film festivals and/or in limited theatrical release of not more than seven days in not more than two (2) cities; and

(B) exhibitions made for the purpose of meeting “initial limited theatrical prelease” requirements for foreign theatrical exhibition by a motion picture distributor or financier provided that evidence of the requirement for an initial limited theatrical release is acceptable to the Awards Committee and that theatrical exhibitions prior to the airing or Internet exhibition of the television program do not exceed an aggregate of up to seventy (70) days prior exhibitions in not more than ten (10) U.S. cities.

Below, a breakdown by Emmy Awards category of these half dozen double dippers.

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Cartel Land (A&E)
Synopsis: A physician in Michoacán, Mexico leads a citizen uprising against the drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years.
This Oscar finalist won the Sundance Film Festival’s Cinematography and Directing awards for documentaries.

Emmy Awards nominations (5)
Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking
Best Cinematography (Nonfiction Program)
Best Directing  (Nonfiction Program)
Best Picture Editing  (Nonfiction Program)
Best Sound Editing  (Nonfiction Program – Single or Multi-Camera)

He Named Me Malala (National Geographic)
Synopsis: A look at the events leading up to the Taliban’s attack on Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai who advocated for girls’ education and the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.
Director Davis Guggenheim won the Documentary Feature Oscar in 2006 for “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Emmy Awards nominations (5)
Best Cinematography (Nonfiction Program)
Best Directing (Nonfiction Program)
Best Picture Editing (Nonfiction Program)
Best Production Design (Nonfiction Program)
Best Sound Editing (Nonfiction Program – Single or Multi-Camera)

The Hunting Ground”
Synopsis: An exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and the devastating toll they take on students and their families.
Director Kirby Dick is a two-time Oscar nominee for the documentary features “Twist of Faith” (2005) and “The Invisible War” (2013), both of which also shone a light on sexual abuse.

Emmy Awards nominations (2)
Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking
Best Song

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Listen to Me Marlon (Showtime)
Synopsis: A documentary that utilizes hundreds of hours of audio that Marlon Brando recorded over the course of his life to tell the screen legend’s story.
This reaped Best Documentary Feature bids at BAFTA, IDA and the Gotham Awards.

Emmy Awards nomination (1)
Best Documentary or Nonfiction Special

What Happened Miss Simone (Netflix)
Synopsis: A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the “High Priestess of Soul.”
This Oscar finalist also reaped a DGA bid for Liz Garbus.

Emmy Awards nominations (6)
Best Documentary or Nonfiction Special
Best Cinematography (Nonfiction Program)
Best Directing (Nonfiction Program)
Best Picture Editing (Nonfiction Program)
Best Sound Editing (Nonfiction Program – Single or Multi-Camera)
Best Sound Mixing (Nonfiction Program – Single or Multi-Camera)

Winter on Fire (Netflix)
Synopsis: A documentary on the unrest in Ukraine during 2013 and 2014, as student demonstrations supporting European integration grew into a violent revolution calling for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.
This Oscar finalist won the People’s Choice Documentary Award at TIFF.

Emmy Awards nomination (1)
Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking

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