BAFTA awards address diversity problem with over 120 changes

Carla Harmon
September 27, 2020

Bafta - the British Academy of Film and Television Arts - said the expansion of its outstanding British film award would enable it to "do more to champion the vast pool of multicultural British talent".

Ten titles will be in contention for the outstanding British film award - four more than the customary six.

In an interview with Selection, BAFTA chair Krishnendu Majumdar described the brand new guidelines as a "wholesale cultural change" that has been within the works for seven months.

BAFTA weathered criticism earlier this year when it announced an all-white slate of acting nominees and failed to nominate any women for directing in a year that was particularly strong for female-helmed films.

The academy announced that it would conduct a "careful and detailed review" of its voting system to ensure greater representation in future.

The review was led by a specially formed steering group, which spoke to more than 400 people, including members, senior industry figures, guilds, industry bodies, now under-represented groups, press and prominent figures within all aspects of the filmmaking community in the UK, US and internationally. All members will also be required to take a "conscious voter training" course to ensure voting is done fairly. Best picture nominees will have to meet specific requirements addressing gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and disability in front of and behind the camera in order to qualify. The newly added sixth place "encourages the broadest attainable illustration", says Samuelson.

In regards to the expanded British film category, Majumdar says the 10 spots - up from six - allow for "some big movies, and some smaller movies".

- Expanding their membership to target new members from under-represented groups. "The whole process is about adding new members". "They'll be completely happy that it's thought by means of, and [it will work if] everybody stays and performs their half".

"It is a watershed moment for BAFTA", recently elected BAFTA Chairman Krishnendu Majumdar explained. As everyone knows, that is the beginning of the journey. "We can sort out our side of the street and get BAFTA to become the kind of organization that everyone hopes it would be, which is truly representative and, in terms of the awards BAFTA gives, let the work be seen and be judged with fairness".

In the meantime, Administrators UK, which in January challenged BAFTA to overview their voting processes following the stunning lack of feminine illustration within the director class, mentioned they, too, had been buoyed by the outcomes. We called for radical voting reform across all categories, recognizing that the awards process was failing to reflect the diversity of the films being made.

Harrower said the changes in the directing category to address the historic lack of female representation are "a levelling up for women that is long overdue and a welcome progression". But there is still a long way to go and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

These changes will be introduced for the film awards in 2021.

"Now these recommendations need to be enacted and implemented to ensure that the cultural and creative ambitions we all want to see are realised".

"It's so complex, there are so many different issues and that is why we have attacked so many different things, it's not one thing, they are all inter-connected".

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