Joaquin Phoenix calls out lack of diversity in BAFTA Award speech

Carla Harmon
February 3, 2020

First World War drama "1917" was the big victor at the BAFTAs on Sunday, picking up seven awards including best picture and director for Sam Mendes, at a glittering ceremony in London that made headlines for a glaring lack of diversity among nominees.

Phoenix was widely praised on social media following his BAFTAs speech, particularly for the second half, in which he admitted that he's "part of the problem".

"I feel a lot of people don't realize there are opportunities". "I think that is the message that we are sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry - and in ways that we benefit from".

All of the 18 nominees for acting awards were white. While giving his acceptance speech, the actor urged the industry to undo this "system of oppression" and have fair nominations as he felt "conflicted" taking away the award as there are many deserving fellow actors that didn't have same privileges as he did.

"This is not a self-righteous condemnation, because I'm ashamed that I'm part of the problem. I think people just want to be appreciated and respected for their work". She said: "This is very humbling".

"I have not done everything in my power - not all sets I've worked on are inclusive", he added. "Although that's what we give ourselves every year".

Phoenix is all-but-assured to take home an Oscar next Sunday, and it will be interesting to see if his speech there strikes a similar tone or if he'll be more focused on the art. Phoenix has spoken about racism and climate change, but not about the shut-out of female directors.

Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-wrote war film 1917 with director Sir Sam Mendes, said that she was shocked at the critical reception to the film, which has received nine Bafta nominations, including outstanding British film.

"They represent the future of the industry, so actually I think it's quite a positive story but it's sort of got lost in the fact that there's no-one in the main fiction category".

Hosted by Graham Norton, this year's film awards saw Renée Zellweger take home the prize for Best Actress, following her impressive performance as Judy Garland in Judy, while Icelandic composer, Hildur Guðnadóttir's spectacular score for Jokerwon Best Original Score.

Roger Deakins's win for best cinematography for "1917" made him the most-decorated victor of that category, while Mendes won his first directing prize, making him the first United Kingdom victor in the category since Danny Boyle won for "Slumdog Millionaire".

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