BAFTA has decided to extend the eligibility period for its Film Awards this year, with the org now allowing titles to release at any point in 2021 and still be eligible for the upcoming ceremony in April.
Previously, April 9 was the cut-off for releases. Even though the awards body has relaxed its rules regarding the theatrical component of a release, that timeline was still looking unrealistic due to the ongoing pandemic situation, with the UK in full lockdown since December and likely to remain so for at least another month.
BAFTA had announced it would allow release date appeals “under the most exceptional of circumstances” but this will no longer be necessary for distributors.
The deadline to submit titles has passed so the tweak will not allow for any last-minute entries, it does however reduce the possibility of a crush of releases around March-April, when cinemas could be open again.
Films will still not require a theatrical release to be included, a decision that was made because of the pandemic and will be revisited for 2022.
Deadline recently sat down with BAFTA chairman Krishnendu Majumdar and Marc Samuelson, Chair of the BAFTA Film Committee, to discuss the 2021 rules changes among other topics.
The extension also applies to the two categories that were previously extended to April 30, Film Not In The English Language and Documentary.
“All of us at BAFTA are aware of the incredibly difficult year everyone across the industry has had. We have made multiple changes to our eligibility criteria at various stages of the pandemic in recognition of these extraordinary circumstances. Given the current situation in the UK with cinemas remaining closed, we felt extending the eligibility period was the right thing to do,” explained Samuelson.
“The new extended eligibility period will give distributors the opportunity to release their qualifying films in cinemas later this year once restrictions have lifted. Our intention is to be as flexible and supportive as we can during these difficult times as well as allow audiences to see as many of these films as possible in a theatrical setting,” he added.
Voting opened for the BAFTA Film Awards on January 12, with nominations to be unveiled on March 9 and the ceremony scheduled for April 11.