When the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences leadership looked for a model for its new inclusion standards, they turned to the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, which instituted guidelines in 2016. However, BAFTA faced a shocking lack of diversity in the 2020 Film Awards nominations. BAFTA promptly instigated a wide-ranging review of all its practices.
BAFTA has announced more than 120 changes to its voting, membership and campaigning processes, as it published the findings of its in-depth, independently verified Awards Review. Unanimously approved by the BAFTA Board, the changes signal, per a press release, “the beginning of a significant cultural shift in BAFTA as it also challenges the industry to address the serious lack of opportunity and equality.”
On the membership front, BAFTA will implement a series of steps to ensure a more representative and inclusive membership that, according to their statement, “reflects today’s British society. The BAFTA Steering Group has identified this as necessary for the long-term success and relevance of BAFTA as a leading industry body as it continues to drive change across the industry.”
At least 1,000 new voting members will be added over the next two years. There will be a strong focus on recruiting from under-represented groups, and BAFTA will create a Future Membership Group. Comprised of current members from many backgrounds, this group will focused on identifying future members from under-represented groups.
If BAFTA members want to participate in Film Awards voting, they must respond to a survey later this month. BAFTA will publish results and proposed targets later this year. This survey will be repeated on a regular basis to ensure BAFTA is progressing towards its set targets.
To increase the diversity of BAFTA’s membership, targets will be introduced and published based on the findings of the Membership Survey. BAFTA will introduce a range of measures to address financial issues surrounding membership fees for both new applicants and existing members.
Changes will be made to enable members with disabilities greater access and ability to attend screenings and events. BAFTA is introducing “bespoke conscious voter training,” required for all voting members, which “will help voters navigate and recognize the wider societal influences that can impact the voting process. BAFTA’s Film Awards celebrate excellence in film. In order to aid members, conscious voter training will include broader advice on what excellence means to BAFTA.”
This training will be rolled out in advance of Round 1 voting for the 2021 Film Awards. All long-listing and nominating jury chairs and members will undergo the same training.
Significant changes to Film Awards voting have been implemented across all categories. A key aim is to expand the viewership of all entered films, ensuring members consider more films and create a level playing field for all entrants.
All Film Awards voting will now consist of three rounds to allow members a longer period to watch all films and allow for additional specialist chapter and jury voting.
Changes for the EE British Academy Film Awards 2021 include:
· A new long-listing Round of voting in all categories to achieve greater diversity in nominations
· It is now compulsory for all voters, chapters, and juries to watch all longlisted films before Round 2 voting, to level the playing field across all titles
· Major rule changes and increase in nominations in the acting and directing categories to address a continuing lack of diversity in the performance categories and a historic lack of female representation in the directing category
· Outstanding British Film – an increase to ten nominations to ensure a stronger focus on British film within the Film Awards and the ceremony itself
· Changes to campaigning aimed at ensuring a fairer consideration of all films regardless of marketing budget
· All entered films to be available on the new BAFTA View portal (with titles added over six months prior to the ceremony) to allow for better voter access to all entered films and wider viewership across all films
· BAFTA continues to endorse the BFI Diversity Standards as an effective tool for driving meaningful change in the industry, and will continue to work with the BFI to expand the use of the BFI Diversity Standards as eligibility criteria across a wider range of categories
· BAFTA is supporting the BFI’s review of the BFI Diversity Standards and its work with other UK partners, and with AMPAS, to strengthen and develop the framework for maximum impact
“This is a watershed moment for BAFTA,” said BAFTA chair Krishnendu Majumdar.
The Academy has never opened itself up like this before. The sessions with contributors were tough, chastening, captivating and very moving. Many colleagues from under-represented groups bravely shared their experiences of racism and discrimination in their careers. They also shared their ideas and hopes for BAFTA’s future, which we have embraced. There is a real wish and support for BAFTA to continue to be an industry leader on diversity and other issues. Representation matters and we’ve all been starkly reminded of this with the rise of the global anti-racist movement. This creative renewal is not just about changes to the awards and membership – this is a reappraisal of our values and the culture of BAFTA. We want long term and sustainable change throughout the industry. We know how far we have to go and how difficult this is especially due to the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our industry. Today’s announcement marks just the first phase of our process as we evolve as an Academy.
“It became very clear during the Review how vital it is to level the playing field across all that we do as an organisation, not just the awards,” said BAFTA film committee chair Marc Samuelson. “One of the key issues raised time and time again throughout the process was that too much deserving work was not being seen. The changes we are implementing are designed to ensure these films are seen and judged on merit alone. The ambition is for BAFTA to evolve into a more inclusive organisation, one representing and celebrating the full breadth of talent in our industries.”
Significant changes to the Television Awards will also be announced next month, and separate Games and Children’s Awards Reviews are being conducted later this year.