Bafta announces changes to film awards following lack of diversity

Bafta has announced a raft of changes to its film awards – including expanding the nominations for director, actor and actress from five to six – in response to a lack of diversity at this year’s ceremony.

There will also be changes to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ voting, membership and campaigning processes, while the outstanding British film category will be expanded from six to 10 nominations to increase the focus on British work.

The nominations for the 2020 film awards featured no non-white actors in the four main acting categories, and an absence of female directors, and Bafta subsequently announced it would conduct a “careful and detailed review” of its voting system.

EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 – Press Room – London
EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 – Press Room – London

That review has led to 120 changes to address the lack of diversity, including an expansion of membership to target 1,000 new members from under-represented groups; a membership survey that will be a requirement to vote for the awards to allow Bafta to set targets to address areas of under-representation; and a new long-listing round of voting in all categories to achieve greater diversity in nominations.

All voters, chapters and juries will be required to watch all long-listed films before voting for the nominees.

Bafta chairman Krish Majumdar told the PA news agency it had been an “incredibly humbling, chastening, at times really difficult process to hear hard truths about Bafta, about the processes, but also about the industry” during the seven-month review process.

He said: “You look at the discrimination that is rife throughout the industry and society. When we started the process, the pandemic and also the huge wave of global anti-racist protests hadn’t started but obviously during the course of this process the world changed, the whole world changed, especially at how we look at race and inequality in society.

“It was magnified, those fault lines. So I’m really proud to say that Bafta has really stood up and responded to that.

“We started off as looking at the film awards but very quickly we realised everything was inter-connected.

BAFTAS Preparation Photocall – London
BAFTAS Preparation Photocall – London

“If we give an award to someone, we give that performance or film or piece of content value, so if we ignore people from sections of society, whether that be people of colour, whether that be females, whether that be disabled filmmakers, that means we don’t value them and we realised there was something fundamentally that needed to change to remove those barriers to diversity.

“It’s so complex, there are so many different issues and that is why we have attacked so many different things, it’s not one thing, they are all inter-connected.”

He added: “People were talking about the prejudice of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination that they faced, some people have had to leave the industry and a lot of that isn’t to do with Bafta, that is to do with working in film and television and games, and that was particularly distressing.

“There were several calls in which I broke down and wept, everyone on Zoom was crying because it was so distressing and it’s really driven us on to change.”

The review was led by a specially formed steering group, which spoke to more than 400 people, including members, senior industry figures, guilds, industry bodies, currently under-represented groups, press and prominent figures within all aspects of the filmmaking community in the UK, US and internationally.

Changes to the television awards will also be announced next month, and separate games and children’s awards reviews are being conducted later this year.