Following Oscars' Lead, European Film Academy Allows Online Contenders

© Wolfgang Ennenbach/2019 Sommerhaus/eOne Germany
Films like 'Berlin Alexanderplatz,' which have yet to hit theaters, can qualify for the EFAs with an online premiere

Films unable to bow in cinemas because of COVID-19 but screening online or in theaters by November 30 can still qualify for Europe's big film award.

The European Film Academy, following a similar move by the Academy Awards, will bend its rules this year to allow films that premiere online to qualify for the European Film Awards (EFA).

Normally, only films that premiered in theaters in Europe between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020 would be eligible for the EFAs, the European equivalent of the Oscars. But with theaters across the continent shut down due to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, the European Academy has adjusted its criteria.

Any film that had a theatrical premiere scheduled but premieres online or in theaters in Europe by the end of November this year will be eligible for the 2020 EFAs. Films must be submitted by May 31 and be made available to EFA members on the Academy's own VOD platform.

In a statement, EFA chairman Mike Downey said the European Academy "remains committed to European cinema and its creators" and made the changes "to ensure the ongoing future of the selection for this year’s European Film Awards."

Last month, the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a similar move, dropping the requirement that submitted films screen for at least one week in a Los Angeles-area theater in order to be eligible. Submitted films have to be made available for Academy members to view on the organization's members-only streaming service, Academy Screening Room, within 60 days of them being released on a streamer of VOD service.