BAFTA Unveils New Diversity Initiatives for Film Awards

British Academy Film Awards - MASK- Getty-H 2016
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Films in the two categories will have to meet the BFI's Diversity Standards criteria, while BAFTA membership policy is also being updated.

The BAFTAs, the biggest film awards outside of the U.S., is changing the rules for two of its categories as part of an attempt to improve diversity levels. 

From 2019, entrants to both the outstanding British film and outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer categories will have to meet the BFI Diversity Standards criteria, the British Film Institute's guidance policy for project funding that focuses on disability, gender, race, age and sexual orientation both onscreen and in the production process.

"When you look at that British film category, many of those films either get their funding from the BFIFilm4 or BBC Films, and all three of these have now signed up to these Diversity Standards," BAFTA deputy chair Anne Morrison told The Hollywood Reporter.

"So I think it's going to be a natural progression. But we're giving people a long lead time. It provides a common language across the industry."

BAFTA is also introducing a new measure to improve diversity among its membership, abolishing the requirement for new applicants in both the U.K. and U.S. to have proposers and seconders from within the existing pool of members, a policy that comes into force immediately. 

"Clearly, if you're coming from an underrepresented group, you're less likely to know people in the industry and be able to tap someone on the shoulder and ask to be put forward," said Pippa Harris, chair of the film committee.

The moves come at the same time BAFTA revealed the results of a survey looking into the makeup of its membership that was instigated at the start of the year.

Of 6,000 U.K.-based members contacted, a 46 percent response rate revealed a relatively high level of diversity: 41 percent female, 13 percent from minority ethnic groups and a median age of 52. By contrast, the latest Academy figures showed a membership that was 94 percent white, 76 percent male and with an average age of 63. 

BAFTA's latest take of 375 new members in 2016 was 43 percent female, 18 percent from minority ethnic groups and had a median age of 44.