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BAFTA takes bold steps to support diverse filmmaking

Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 2013 BAFTA Best Film 12 Years a Slave

Hollywood may still be largely in denial about its diversity problem, pointing to the success of black actors like Anthony Hopkins and Asian-Americans like Tilda Swinton and Emma Stone while making only minor changes to the MPAA’s nominating process after last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

But Slate reports that the British Academy of Film and Television Arts is taking a stronger stance towards diversity, as starting in 2019, it will no longer award Outstanding British Film or Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer to “works that do not demonstrate inclusivity in their production practices.” While these two awards are not as high-profile as Best Picture or Best Actress, they have one thing in common: they’re specific to British-made films. Presumably, the hope is that while the British Academy might not be able to affect Hollywood, they can influence their own country’s film industry in a significant way.


When looking for diversity, the British Academy will consider all aspects of filmmaking, including “on-screen characters and themes, senior roles and crew, industry training and career progression, and audience access and appeal to underrepresented audiences.” The Academy also made it easier for new members to join—previously a new voter had to be recommended by two existing ones, making the Academy a fairly insular club. (The American Academy did something similar, revisiting each voters’ membership every ten years, and adding three more seats designated for underrepresented segments of the population.)

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