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BAFTA Makes Big Changes to Ensure More Diversity in Movies

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is changing the eligibility criteria for two of its major film award categories to encourage producers to improve diversity on both sides of the camera.

BAFTA has adopted the BFI Diversity Standards when considering eligibility for two awards categories: "outstanding British film" and "outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer."

EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 - Winners Room
Chiwetel Ejiofor, winner of the Leading Actor BAFTA award for "12 Years a Slave" in 2014. Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

To be eligible, productions must demonstrate that they have worked to increase the participation of groups that are under-represented in the film industry, such as ethnic minorities, the disabled, women, LGBT, or people from lower socioeconomic groups, in two of the following four areas: on-screen representation, themes and narratives; project leadership and creative practitioners; industry access and opportunities; and opportunities for diversity in audience development.

The changes will take effect from 2019.

BAFTA is also amending the criteria for membership in the organization. For the 2017 intake, it has abolished the requirement for new member applicants to need proposers and seconders from the existing membership. "This widens the pool of potential members and ensures that it's only talent, and not also who you know, that enables BAFTA membership," according to a statement.

In January, BAFTA issued an anonymous questionnaire to give it an insight into the composition of its membership. Out of the 45% of recipients who responded, 41% were female, 13% from minority ethnic groups, and the median age was 52.

By contrast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' membership is 23% female, 6% non-white, and the median age is 62.

Of the 375 BAFTA members joining this year, 43% were female, and 18% were from minority ethnic groups. They had a median age of 44.