In a move to avoid controversies similar to #OscarsSoWhite, films will be excluded from the Bafta Awards in 2019 if they don’t meet new diversity criteria.
While this does raise concerns of tokenism so companies can meet this criteria, these concerns are assuaged by the exact details of how this will work.
Films can only be nominated for the outstanding British film or outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer awards if they meet two of four criteria. Bafta are calling this is a “significant change”, and it is aiming to bring in more minorties, women, people with disabilities and people from lower socio-economic groups.
However, it is not just targeting people on screen, it’s also aimed at behind the scenes and audiences. As we mentioned above, these new rules apply to the outstanding British film or outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer awards.
To be eligible for these, films must prove that they have improved diversity in two of four areas.
- On-screen characters and themes
- Senior roles and crew
- Industry training and career progression
- Audience access and appeal to under-represented audiences
A statement said that these changes show the Bafta Award’s determination “in increasing the representation of under-represented groups in front of and behind the camera.”
As I mentioned before, on the surface this could raise concerns of tokenism, but the Bafta’s aren’t asking for a certain amount of a certain group, they are simply asking films being nominated for these awards to show improvement in two of the above areas. This is a more natural and organic way to increase diversity both in front of and behind the camera, as well as appealing to a more diverse audience.
The Baftas have also made changes elswhere, by changing the rules for admitting new members to the panel which votes for the winners. From this year onwards, people within the film industry no longer have to be recommended by two existing members of the panel in order to join.
Bafta said: “This widens the pool of potential members and ensures that it’s only talent, and not also who you know, that enables Bafta membership.”
They also said that of the 375 members admitted in 2016, 41% of voters were female, 13% were minorities and that they had an average age of 52.