LONDON – Britain’s film academy is shaking up its membership and its awards voting rules in a review prompted by the glaring lack of diversity in the nominations.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) promised to change after contenders for the 2020 awards were announced last January. No women were nominated as best director for the seventh year running, and all 20 nominees in the lead and supporting performer categories were white.
The lack of diversity at the 2020 BAFTAs, held a month before Britain went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, was criticized by several of the nominees.
The measures include recruiting 1,000 new members from under-represented groups to join the current 6,700-strong voting academy of film-industry professionals.
In the directing category, there will be a 20 longlist of filmmakers, 10 men and 10 women, though no mandatory gender balance in the final six nominees. Acting nominees will also be selected from 15-strong lists and there will be six finalists rather than the previous five.
In the U.S., the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been striving to diversify for several years and this month announced inclusion standards for the Oscars that will come into effect for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024. 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 American Academy’s diversity and inclusion standards were inspired by similar efforts by the British Film Institute, which supports and helps fund U.K. cinema. Meeting the standards has been a requirement for most public film funding in the U.K. since 2014. But a recent report said that even that has not yet improved racial inequality.