BAFTA Plans Major Review of Awards Voting After Diversity Issues Impact Nominations
Art and Experience: There will be a root and branch review of how the BAFTA Film Awards are voted on in the wake of this week’s nominations, which saw no people of color nominated in the acting categories and, again, no female helmers get a nod for best director.
The head of BAFTA’s film committee, Marc Samuelson, told Variety that there will be a “careful and detailed review within and outside the membership.” Having conceded as the noms landed that there was an “infuriating” lack of diversity in the lineup, Samuelson said everyone who has a view will be heard, and any changes agreed upon will be in place in time for voting for the 2021 awards.
First-round voting for the Film Awards is carried out by all members for some categories including those for acting, and specialist chapters and juries for others. All 6,500 members then vote on the noms in almost all categories in the next round to elicit the winners, who will collect the awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Feb. 2.
There are various alternative systems possible, including versions whereby nominations are created through hybrids of all-member, jury, and chapters votes.
BAFTA was roundly criticized in the wake of the noms with the BAFTAsSoWhite hashtag gaining traction on Twitter. It has not ducked the issues and Samuelson said: “There is absolute openness to change, and the organization made clear its position on the noms and that it was not satisfied. Change is required – what that is, is complex and needs calm, careful thought.”
The review of the voting system will follow a similar process to the one implemented in 2019 after exhibitors were vocal about their unhappiness with Netflix’s “Roma” being eligible for awards despite its limited theatrical release. That review helped ensure wider theatrical distribution of qualifying pictures from streamers, and BAFTA hopes its look at voting can also have a tangible impact on the make-up of its awards. Samuelson is writing to members to encourage their feedback and contribution to the review.
Pictured: Marc Samuelson, chair of BAFTA’s film committee, and Amanda Berry, BAFTA CEO, at the BAFTA Film Awards nominations announcement on Jan. 7.