BAFTA has ruled out a new Best Feature Documentary category at this year's Orange British Academy Film Awards.

With the growth of interest in the theatrical documentary, some film-makers have been calling for their own award. That sense of missing out has been exacerbated by BAFTA's decision to introduce an 'animated feature' award in 2007.

But Finola Dwyer, Chair of BAFTA's Film Committee, has defended BAFTA's decision: 'We have looked at it and we are not in a position to add an extra award to the 24 we already have,' she said.

She said BAFTA had debated the issue and was 'totally not ruling out' the possibility of introducing such an award in the future.

Nonetheless, the decision will disappoint some film-makers.

'To me, it's an anomaly that the animation category can exist for a much smaller output of film-making when documentary is denied that status,' said director Stuart Urban (a former BAFTA winner for An Ungentlemanly Act and Our Friends In The North and who directed the feature documentary, Tovarisch I Am Not Dead(2007).

This year, critically-acclaimed (and theatrically released) British and international feature docs like James Marsh's Man On Wire and James Toback's Tyson risk being overlooked at the BAFTA film awards.

However, Dwyer points out that feature documentaries are eligible to compete in other categories. For example, Kevin Macdonald's Touching The Void beat out stiff fictional competition to win the Best British Film award in 2003.

There are other opportunities for feature docs outside BAFTA. The British Independent Film Awards gives a prize to 'Best British Documentary.' The Grierson Awards also have a category for 'Best Cinema Documentary.'

Meanwhile, the British Academy Television Awards have a category for 'Single Documentary.' Even so, Urban argues that feature docs are losing out.

'Some very strong British documentaries are coming out,' Urban said.

'In future, they (BAFTA) should surely reconsider their rules. I think there will be far more vibrant, grass roots cinema documentaries made about exciting subjects that are outside the television system.'