BAFTA to stage first awards voting since diversity review

Picture of BAFTA award trophies
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Following a positive response to the many changes implemented since last year, BAFTA’s new transparent system will swing into action this week.

A full year ago, BAFTA unveiled its nominations for 2020 and immediately faced a storm of criticism for a process that had led to an all-white roster of acting nominations. Having committed itself to a seven-month long diversity review, the results of which were met with positive reactions, BAFTA’s reshaped nomination process begins this week.

As covered by Variety, BAFTA has opened the voting window by issuing three videos about being ‘voter conscious’, educating members about representation on screen. The short films were made in collaboration with equality expert Huma Qazi.

Says Film Committee Chair, Marc Samuelson, “we’re trying to get people to think more consciously about voting. To have people like [BAFTA senior member] Duncan Kenworthy saying that everyone’s individual vote is important, and to try and be free of outside influences [goes a long way]”.

Also, BAFTA is using a novel method of making voters screen 15 randomly selected films before they are eligible to vote in round 1, the logic here being that it will channel members to explore films that they wouldn’t ordinarily have watched and has led to a fourfold increase in films being viewed by members on BAFTAs private streaming service.

Says Samuelson, “people are saying they’re watching things they haven’t done before … This way, each film should be watched at least 350-400 times if you work out the numbers, which is amazing because the whole point of the review was to level the playing field and make sure more work is watched, judged and evaluated.”

Whether or not BAFTA 2021 happens as a physical event is yet to be determined as the country struggles under the weight of the ongoing pandemic. What does seems certain however, is that talent from underrepresented backgrounds have a greater chance of being recognised for their achievements. Thursday February 4th will mark the long-list publishing of all first round nominations, another new element added by BAFTA to develop transparency of the voting process. We’ll bring you the results of those nominations as we hear them.

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