Michael Moore may be dreaming of a bookend for his ”Bowling for Columbine” Oscar, but he may have already lost his chance to win a Best Documentary prize for ”Fahrenheit 9/11,” thanks to recent events in Cuba. According to Reuters, Cuban state-run television aired the Bush-bashing documentary last Thursday. According to Academy rules, documentaries are ineligible for the best-doc trophy if they air on TV or the Internet anywhere in the world within nine months of their theatrical debut (which, in ”Fahrenheit”’s case, was less than two months ago).
The Academy does make an exception in the event of piracy, which may have been the case in Cuba. Wild Bunch, the French company that handles the film’s overseas licensing, told Variety it had not cleared the movie for broadcast in Cuba. Also, Reuters reported, the broadcast followed theatrical screenings of the movie, as projected from ”rough DVD copies.” The suggestion that even the theatrical run of the film is the result of bootlegging is borne out by Moore’s website, which lists ”Fahrenheit”’s opening date in dozens of countries but lists no date for Cuba.
Even if the Cuban broadcast did scuttle the film’s hopes for a documentary Oscar, it would still be eligible for other Academy Awards, which don’t have the same nine-month TV blackout restriction. No doubt Moore wouldn’t mind losing the Best Documentary eligibility if it gave him a clearer shot at Best Picture.