BAFTA has spelled out the diversity criteria films will need to meet for the two British film categories in its 2019 Film Awards. The British Academy came in for a barrage of criticism after this year’s Film Awards nominations included just two non-white actors out of 20 nominated and a best director category devoid of women.
BAFTA had already said it would make adherence to British Film Institute diversity standards part of the eligibility criteria for the categories of Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer in 2019. It has now fleshed out that plan.
Films submitted must meet two of the BFI’s quartet of core diversity standards. These cover on-screen representation, project leadership, work experience, and audience access.
Marc Samuelson, chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee, noted that films receiving BBC Films or Film4 funding were already required to fulfill diversity criteria. He told Variety that the new rules show BAFTA putting its shoulder to the wheel when it comes to diversity. But Samuelson also acknowledged that it would be challenging to make the BFI standards apply to all awards categories, beyond the two set aside for British films, as many movies up for honors are produced outside the U.K.
BAFTA and the BFI collaborated on new guidelines designed to tackle harassment in the industry and have teamed again for the diversity initiative at the Film Awards. Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, said it demonstrated a “shared commitment to creating a more representative U.K. industry.”
“We want to encourage, educate and support the industry to embed the diversity standards across all decision-making, which will bring real and lasting change needed to allow the U.K.’s screen industries to benefit from the cultural and commercial benefits that real inclusion brings,” Nevill said.
The diversity push addresses the issue at an industrial level, although it does not guarantee better representation in the actual nominations. These are decided by BAFTA members.
The winner of the 2018 Outstanding British Film was “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Rungano Nyoni (pictured, above left) won Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for “I Am Not a Witch.” The nominations are revealed in January, ahead of the ceremony in February.