How does the British film and television industry define excellence?
Nothing to do with actual quality, it appears, but rather the diversity of the production team and the target audience. As the BBC reported, last week, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced that starting in 2019, the BAFTA awards for the Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, the British equivalent of the Oscars, will only be bestowed on films that prove they have worked to improve diversity in two of the four following areas: on-screen characters and themes; senior roles and crew: industry training and career progression, and audience access and appeal to under-represented audiences.
As Slate reminisced fondly, “Back in 2014, the British Film Institute established similar standards for projects seeking National Lottery funding in an effort to improve representation within the filmmaking industry.”
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts’s decision follows the #OscarsSoWhite campaign that was triggered by the slate of all-white acting nominees in 2016, which prompted Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to change its membership rules, cutting members’ voting statuses to 10 years and adding three more governors' seats from underrepresented groups.
Stating, point-blank, that you cannot even think about receiving accolades from one of film’s most prestigious institutions unless you make an effort to bring in a wider variety of collaborators is to light a much-needed fire under the filmmakers’ butts . . . Many people will undoubtedly find this move to be blasphemous, leaning on the tired crutch of “artistic freedom” to label BAFTA as intrusive. They can live and die by that sword if they’d like, but they’ll only be proving that they’re not quite as creative or imaginative as they claim to be.