BAFTA Tweaks Film Awards Rules To Consider Digital Releases & Expands Animation Category; Finalizes Calendar


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has finalized its key dates for the BAFTA Film Awards whose ceremony will take place on February 12, 2017 in London — it’s also made some rule changes, notably allowing consideration for non-traditional releases. There are no major shifts on the calendar, although it’s notable that nominations will be announced January 10, putting them a full two weeks ahead of Oscar nominations rather than the six days that separated the two earlier this year.

In one of the biggest rule tweaks, BAFTA will now be open to considering feature submissions which are distributed by methods other than theatrical and in response to the rise in digital platforms and non-traditional releases. The org says it still wants the primary medium to be cinemas, and in order to qualify the main rule of thumb will be a theatrical run of 10 screens for at least a week. However, the group will look at titles that have different release plans on a case-by-case basis. The Film Committee will have the power to accept submissions they deem eligible. This would particularly apply, for example, to films that have had a presence at festivals and to British indies and non-British indies which come into the UK via the increasingly common digital route. BAFTA says the idea is to make sure that the best films are recognized, and are not penalized by how they are funded. (While Idris Elba was nominated as Best Actor last year for Netflix’s Beasts Of No Nation, that film had a qualifying UK theatrical run.)

In another important shift, the Animated Film category is expanding. It has traditionally been limited to three films, but the Film Committee will now have the option to increase that to five if the level of entries is sufficient, BAFTA explains. I’m told the feeling is that there will be enough candidates this year to have the maximum number.

The Documentary category already had the option of nominating five films and now that number will be made official.

Elsewhere, BAFTA is partnering with the PGA in the U.S. and will rely on them to make sure credits are meaningful. BAFTA has worked with the PGA in the past, but this is a formalizing of the relationship. In cases where a film has been submitted to the PGA, BAFTA will only recognize that org’s say on credits. If an entry has not been submitted to the U.S. guild, BAFTA will use its own guidelines.

Overall, craft categories will now be optional. In previous years, if a movie was entered in the Best Film race, it would automatically go into qualifying for craft mentions. The option this year will be given for those submitting films to point out the key areas for consideration.

Finally, the nominees for British Short Film and British Short Animation will all be released theatrically and digitally following the nominations announcement. A new rule will make it compulsory for all entrants to ensure that rights are cleared ahead of time and the nominees will be released as a package to ensure maximum exposure.

Below is the BAFTA Film Award calendar:

October 21 – Entry deadline for Stage One submissions
December 14 – Round One voting opens
December 15 – Films released in the UK after 1 January 2017 must be screened to BAFTA voters by this date to qualify
January 3 – Round One voting closes (18:00 GMT)
January 10 – Nominations Announcement; Round Two voting opens
February 8 – Round Two voting closes (18:00 GMT)
February 10 – All entered films to open on general release to the public by this date
February 12 – EE British Academy Film Awards

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