Published on: 24 September 2020 in Industry

Directors UK welcomes the BAFTA 2020 Review

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Today, BAFTA have announced an extensive list of over 120 changes to their voting, membership and campaigning processes, with a view to increasing inclusion and equality within their awards and membership structures.

Directors UK is pleased to have been involved in the wide-ranging consultation process that led to these changes, and we welcome the efforts that BAFTA are making to address deep-rooted iniquities within the British film and TV industry.

Feeding into BAFTA’s review process, we put forward a raft of far-reaching recommendations that championed the importance of inclusivity, accessibility and representation in our industry, whilst reaffirming the director as creative lead. We’re extremely pleased to see that many of our suggestions have been taken on board as part of this first phase of changes.

Key changes to the BAFTA membership process include expanding their membership, with specific targets for new members from underrepresented groups. And the BAFTA Film Awards will now have a longlisting stage within every category, while viewing of all longlisted films will be compulsory before voting, and the Outstanding British Film category will be expanded to 10 nominations.

Within the Directing category, BAFTA have taken steps to redress the lack of recognition for women and directors from other underrepresented groups. They have expanded the final category to six nominations whilst also making a number of changes to the voting process, including the introduction of a 20-strong longlist, with a 50/50 gender split, and with four slots chosen by a specially convened longlisting jury.

Full details of the changes are available at the BAFTA website.

Welcoming these changes, Directors UK CEO Andy Harrower said: “In January, Directors UK challenged BAFTA to review their voting processes following the lack of representation across BAFTA’s 2020 Film Awards nominations. Today, as their 2020 Review is shared, we’re pleased to see our challenge taken seriously.

“We called for radical voting reform across all categories, recognising that the awards process was failing to reflect the diversity of the films being made. To truly serve and represent the breadth of talent working across our industry, a bold and holistic review was needed. The proposed changes to address the lack of representation in their Film Awards and their membership are wide ranging and clearly deeply considered.

“The significant changes that have been made to the directing category to address the historic lack of female representation are a huge step forward for gender equality – it is a levelling up for women that is long overdue and a welcome progression.

“It is not insignificant for a leading institution in the UK screen sector to begin to reform the structures that uphold systemic inequities. We’re delighted that BAFTA have taken action and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them to ensure that these and future changes have a positive and sustained impact across all underrepresented groups. We urge others to be as ambitious in their commitments to address privilege and use their power to achieve equity for all.”

And Directors UK Vice-Chair Susanna White said: “Having taken part in the consultations with the 2020 Review Steering Group, I was impressed by BAFTA’s extensive review process; their actions show that they really listened and have taken bold steps as a result. To see this commitment being made by such a significant organisation feels like a seismic shift towards dismantling systems that stand in the way of equality and representation.

“As a director, I consider myself very lucky to have worked in film and high-end drama, and to have won a BAFTA for doing that. Even so, like so many of my female contemporaries, throughout my career I feel I have struggled to have my voice heard - and I can only speak to my experience as a woman, I can’t begin to speak to the experiences of my colleagues from other underrepresented groups. Systemic bias works in complex ways and the nature of the BAFTA reforms recognise that.

“At Directors UK, we know how hard it is to build a sustainable career in this industry, especially if you come from a less than privileged background, let alone be recognised for that work. It was vital that Directors UK put forward recommendations during the 2020 Review process that attempted to address the inequities felt so acutely by all underrepresented groups.

“I hope that this commitment to change will have wide reaching impacts in terms of gender equality, overcoming barriers for those with disabilities, for racial diversity and provide us all with a massive opportunity to rebuild, from the ground up, an industry that’s fairer and representative of our society.”

Directors UK recognises that these changes are just the first phase of an ongoing effort by BAFTA and the wider industry to improve and evolve. By continuing to work closely with BAFTA, Directors UK will help ensure that these changes lead to a fairer industry for all and that they really are the beginning of a significant cultural shift.

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