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BAFTA Responds to Shutting Out Women for Best Director: ‘It Is a Reflection of the Industry to a Certain Extent’

“Of course we want to see women in the best director category," BAFTA Chair Jane Lush said in an official statement.

Greta Gerwig on the set of "Lady Bird"

Greta Gerwig on the set of “Lady Bird”

BAFTA Chair Jane Lush has issued a statement to Variety reacting to outrage over the complete lack of female nominees in this year’s Best Director race. The 2018 BAFTA nominations were announced January 9 and immediately drew backlash for its directing nominees: Denis Villeneuve (“Blade Runner 2049”), Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me by Your Name”), Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”), Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”), and Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards”).

“Of course we want to see women in the best director category,” Lush said. “It is a reflection of the industry to a certain extent and we should be doing something about it, and that’s why we have BAFTA Elevate. It’s not about blaming people. It’s about what can we do to make it different.”

Following the BAFTA nominations announcement, the organization was slammed for shutting out all women. Greta Gerwig was perhaps the most glaring omission in the race, especially since BAFTA voters clearly loved the film enough to nominate Gerwig herself for Best Screenplay and Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe for acting awards.

The BAFTAs have not nominated a female director in five years. Kathryn Bigelow is the last woman to earn a nomination for Best Director, which happened in 2013 for “Zero Dark Thirty.” The Golden Globes received similar criticism in December when its nominations also left out women in the same category.

“There are only five nominees. I loved ‘Lady Bird’ and it is a very well-directed film and a superb screenplay, which [Gerwig] was nominated for, but which of the [director] nominations would you drop to put Gerwig or Joe Wright in?” Marc Samuelson, chairman of the BAFTA Film Committee, said.

“Having said that, the problem is the problem,” he continued. “There aren’t enough female directors. BAFTA can’t put a voting handicap in so that you favor people. All it can do is dig down into the industry with, for example, Elevate, which was a really important initiative, and Breakthrough Brits and scholarships.”

BAFTA Elevate is a program designed to promote female directors’ careers.

The EE British Academy Film Awards take place on Sunday, February 18 at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

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