Navigating the Awards Landscape in 2020/2021



The 93rd Academy Awards has changed its qualifying rules and has pushed the awards ceremony back two months. In a year with great disruption in distribution trends, what do filmmakers need to know about eligibility and submissions for the Oscars documentary categories and how they impact the entire film awards season?

Tom Oyer from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will clarify this year’s special rules for the Academy’s Documentary Branch due to the pandemic. He will be joined by publicist David Magdael, IDA Documentary Awards Competition Manager Ranell Shubertfilmmakers Erika Cohn and Angela Tucker of Belly of the Beast, and Chris Albert of National Geographic’s global communications team for a digital panel discussing the key factors for filmmakers planning an upcoming awards run.

From left to right: Tom Oyer, David Magdael, Ranell Shubert, Erika Cohn, Angela Tucker and Chris Albert.

Tom Oyer, Associate Director, Member Relations and Awards at AMPAS

At AMPAS, Tom Oyer manages all aspects of the documentary and short film categories, including rules, submissions, voting and member engagement and outreach. Tom will be giving the low down on how the academy rules have changed in light of virtual releases, and what you need to think about if you are considering qualifying.

David Magdael, President of David Magdael & Associates, Inc.

With over two decades in PR/marketing for award wining documentary films, indie features and broadcast content, David Magdael and his company DAVID MAGDAEL & ASSOCIATES have become an important leader in the field. From Oscar®/awards campaigns to theatrical releases to broadcast premieres, Magdael is one of the top media strategists in entertainment. He’s a longtime member of AMPAS and is the co-director of the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival since 1997. He has served as a mentor at the Sundance Institute Docu Producers Lab and with other media organizations sharing his expertise and knowledge.

Ranell Shubert, Awards Competition Manager at IDA

Ranell oversees the IDA Documentary Award competition, a competition that celebrates the best nonfiction films and programs of the year. She also programs for the IDA’s biennial Getting Real Documentary Conference and is a regularly featured speaker and panelist at conferences, festivals, and at universities. She is also is the producer and editor of the What’s Up with Docs podcast. Formerly Ranell served as IDA's Education Programs Manager.

Erika Cohn, Director/Producer of Belly of the Beast

Erika Cohn is an Award-winning director/producer who Variety recognized as one of 2017’s top documentary filmmakers to watch and was featured in DOC NYC’s 2019 “40 Under 40.” Most recently, Erika completed The Judge, a Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated film broadcasted on PBS’ 2018 Independent Lens series. Erika co-directed/produced, In Football We Trust, an Emmy award-winning, feature documentary that was broadcast on PBS’ 2016 Independent Lens series. She also received a Director’s Guild of America award for her fiction short film, When the Voices Fade among other accolades. In 2013, Erika founded Idle Wild Films, Inc., which has released three feature documentaries and produced numerous branded content and commercial spots, including Gatorade’s “Win from Within” series, for which she received a 2016 Webby award nomination. Belly of the Beast is her third feature-length documentary.

Angela Tucker, Producer of Belly of the Beast

Angela Tucker is a writer, director and Emmy nominated producer who works in narrative and documentary genres. Her directorial work includes All Skinfolk, Ain’t Kinfolk, All Styles, and Black Folk Don’t. She is in her ninth year on the PBS strand, “AfroPoP", now as a Co-Executive Producer and is currently producing Belly of the Beast which will broadcast on PBS' Independent Lens this fall. Her production company, TuckerGurl, is passionate about stories that highlight underrepresented communities in unconventional ways. A Visiting Professor at Tulane University, Tucker was a Sundance Institute Women Filmmakers Initiative Fellow. She received her MFA in Film from Columbia University.

Chris Albert, EVP, Marketing Strategy & Global Communications at National Geographic Channels & National Geographic Documentary Films

Chris Albert is responsible for developing and executing global consumer and trade communications strategies as well as consumer marketing strategies for National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Documentary Fims, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo People and Nat Geo MUNDO. Albert also leads both the network’s centralized talent relations department, which manages internal and external demands of on-air talent, and the events department that works across National Geographic Partners.