Following today’s announcement that the Academy is planning to introduce representation and inclusion criteria that films must meet to be eligible for its awards, BAFTA has confirmed it is looking to expand its own standards to cover all of its prizes (they presently cover just two categories), with both bodies aiming for their 2022 ceremonies.
If the standards do come into effect on a wider basis, essentially any films hoping to be up for BAFTA or Oscar consideration would need to meet them. The exact criteria will be spelled out by an AMPAS task force by July 31 this year, today’s announcement noted.
BAFTA initially adopted diversity standards drawn up by the British Film Institute back in 2018, and they currently cover two of its prizes: Best British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. For films to be considered for those awards, they must meet two of four standards, which cover on-screen representation, diversity in crew, industry access and audience development.
You can read the BFI’s diversity standards in full here; they apply to all funding decisions made by that org. It won’t become clear until July how similar the Academy’s standards will be, but I understand the mutual goal here is for a joined-up, all-encompassing approach. To that end, BAFTA and the BFI are both working with the Academy to develop the standards, which should apply across the full spectrum of awards, covering Oscar and BAFTA, naturally filtering down to most other awards shows, from 2022.
BAFTA came into criticism this year for a lack of representation in its nominations, which included an all-white acting field and no women up for best director. The standards are designed to improve diversity in the industry from a grass roots level and the hope is that increased diversity in films made, in front of and behind the camera, will ultimately be reflected in the films up for awards.
One of the hurdles to overcome for BAFTA to introduce the standards across its entire field of awards, however, has been the lack of similar legislation at the Academy. The prospect of films qualifying for Oscar but not for BAFTA is clearly a challenge that needs to be met.
A joined up approach should lead to those standards influencing all productions in the U.S. and UK, plus any international films that will want to be in with a chance of a nomination in the international categories. The hope, as I understand it, is that this will become general practice for the entire global industry.
BAFTA is also planning to introduce the diversity standards for its TV awards from 2021, and is looking at how they could be rolled out for its games awards too.
The subject of diversity and representation is as red-hot now as it has ever been, and there is hunger across the industry to see real progression. The influence of the diversity standards, once implemented across all the BAFTA and Oscar categories, will not lead to instant change, but the bodies are clearly hopeful by 2022 we will see the material difference. In the meantime, long-standing questions about diversity of membership, and also analyzing how voting processes could be altered to improve diversity, remain hot button discussion topics as the bodies continue out-of-season periods of introspection. Potential delays to the 2021 ceremonies due to the pandemic are of course also at the forefront of everyone’s mind, though the hope is that will be a temporary hitch – diversity remains a crucial, long-term issue that the entire industry needs to address.