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Annie Awards Announce 2021 Date and Rule Changes

The pandemic has caused a seemingly endless list of cancellations, delays and moves to online or digital for events planned for 2020. However, with no end in sight, it's also going to have a knock-on effect for events scheduled for next year. Awards organisations are facing a tough situation as the number of releases has been dramatically reduced. The Academy announced some time ago that the 2021 Oscars would allow films that had not screened theatrically to be eligible for the first time. ASIFA-Hollywood, the organisation responsible for the annual Annie Awards have now confirmed there will be changes to next year's awards.

Firstly, the date of the ceremony has been pushed back. Normally taking place in January or February, next year's Annie Awards have been pushed to Friday, April 16, 2021. The actual format of the event is to be determined. It's possible that by then it will be possible to hold the event in person as normal by then, but the option is open to have an online event.

Changes have also been made to the eligibility requirements. However, unlike with the Oscars, these changes have been in reaction not only to the public health crisis but also changes in the media landscape. "Therefore going forward, the Best Feature and Best Feature-Independent categories will continue to accept both theatrically released and digitally released animated feature films", the rules state. "Going forward" implies that this is a permanent change, and not only caused by the pandemic. It's true that the lockdown has only accelerated the move towards digital release. One stipulation remains- to be eligible for the Best Feature award, features must have had at least one public theatrical screening in the US during 2020, or screen at one of the Annie Award sanctioned festivals (Annecy, Ottawa, Zagreb or Hiroshima). No theatrical screenings are required for the Best Feature-Independent category.

The Best Commerical Production has been renamed as Best Sponsored Animated Production, to better reflect that it can include not only commercials but public relation films, industrial films, title sequences and specially produced trailers or teasers. The Virtual Reality category has been dropped. VR productions must be submitted to either Short Subject or Special Production categories, and must also include a flat version for general viewing.

Event information for the 48th annual Annie Awards will be announced later this year.