DGA Awards: No Theatrical Release, No Problem, at Least for COVID-19 Era

DGA_Directors Guild of America_Podium - Getty - H 2020
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Completing the hat trick of major guilds, the Directors Guild of America, through a unanimous vote of the DGA National Board, has joined the Producers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild in declaring that films that were not able to receive a planned theatrical release in 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis will still be able to compete for top guild honors — specifically, its theatrical feature film, first-time feature film and documentary categories.

Movie theaters, of course, have been shuttered across America and around the world since mid-March as a result of the pandemic, preventing distributors from completing awards-qualifying runs like the one week of exhibition in Los Angeles or New York that the DGA has previously mandated.

The guild emphasizes that this "temporary exception" applies to "theatrical motion pictures that establish they had a scheduled or planned bona fide theatrical release with a commercial motion picture theater distribution chain in Los Angeles or New York after March 13, 2020, when the theaters closed — and were instead distributed on video on demand (pay-per-view or streaming) on a national platform for at least seven (7) consecutive days."

"Every aspect of our world and our lives has been affected by this pandemic — and that includes our culture," DGA president Thomas Schlamme said Tuesday in a statement. "Numerous directors who've spent years bringing their visions to life are grappling with the reality that their theatrical releases are canceled. And while the unfortunate circumstances of this present situation prevent those plans from coming to fruition as their films are now being distributed on other platforms, we want to ensure that our members are being recognized by their peers for their work as intended. It is in this spirit that we are allowing a rule exception for the 2021 DGA Awards."