Film Forward

These British Awards Are Taking Important Steps To Encourage Diversity In The Film Industry

The Oscars could learn something from this.

Last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy, sparked by the exclusion of any people of color in the acting categories, brought some much-needed attention to an ongoing diversity problem in the film industry. This year's Golden Globe nominations, which feature several non-White nominees in the major film categories, are an encouraging sign of progress that could predict a more diverse Academy Awards ceremony next year. 

Meanwhile, recent news from BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) promises similar changes across the pond. The organization is introducing diversity standards that will limit eligibility for two categories in the British Academy Film Awards, which many consider the British Oscars. Those categories are Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

Eligibility will be determined by whether a film has worked to increase the representation of underrepresented groups (both in front of and behind the camera) in at least two of four categories, including "on screen representation, themes and narratives," as well as "industry access and opportunities."

BAFTA outlined the decision on its website, including the following statement:

"This significant change demonstrates BAFTA's intention to take a leading role, together with our key partners, in increasing the representation of under-represented groups in front of and behind the camera. Under-represented groups in the film industry include people from minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people, women and LGBT. It also includes people from lower socio-economic groups. In certain categories productions based or set outside London can also count towards achieving the standards."

This is an important step in influencing not only which movies get nominated for awards, but also the types of movies that get made in the first place. Underrepresented groups can't get nominated if opportunities don't exist for them, and while 2019 may seem like too long to wait, this will give time for the industry start making the changes necessary for eligibility. As BAFTA states on its website, "By announcing this change now, we're giving notice to films not yet in production, as well as putting measures in place through our events and initiatives to help productions meet the Diversity Standards."

Until then, the nominees for the 2017 awards will be announced January 10, with the ceremony taking place February 12.

(H/T: Just Jared)

Cover image via chrisdorney / Shutterstock.com

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