To be eligible for the Academy Awards, a documentary feature must play theatrically, at least two showings a day, for at least a week in both Los Angeles County and the borough of Manhattan. (For documentary shorts, it only has to play in one location or the other.) And they have to do it by the end of August to be eligible for next year's Oscars, too -- which means time's a-wastin'!

That's where the International Documentary Association's DocuWeek comes in, screening more than a dozen worthy features and shorts in L.A. and New York so they'll be eligible for Oscar consideration (and so audiences can enjoy them, too, of course). Some of the films didn't get distribution deals when they played at film festivals, so they had no chance of earning Oscar eligibility without something like this.

New York's DocuWeek is happening now, running all day every day through Thursday at Village East Cinema and IFC Center. L.A.'s DocuWeek will be Aug. 22-28 at the ArcLight in Hollywood and Sherman Oaks. The films are more or less the same in both cities (four features and four shorts play in L.A. but not New York), and there are some real gems here.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
(pictured) has already emotionally devastated about half the Cinematical staff (including myself, Will Goss, Monika Bartyzel, and Erik Davis), and you should take advantage of any opportunity you have to see it. An Unlikely Weapon tells the story of the photographer who snapped that famous shot of a Saigon policeman shooting a Viet Cong guerrilla in the head, and the aftermath of the photo. Glass is about love-him-or-hate-him film composer Philip Glass. War Child profiles a Sudanese refugee who has become an international rap star.

The list goes on. Check out the links for the full programs -- and if you're in New York or L.A., go see some docs!