BAFTA in diversity trap

When nominees and quotas mismatch

In late 2016. the British Film Academy decided to set new criteria that films from 2019 would have to meet if they were to be nominated for an award in the main two categories of the academy. The new criteria aimed to "increase the representation of minority / disadvantaged groups in front and behind the camera". Under these new rules, as BAFTA described, filmmakers will have to prove that they have worked to foster diversity in the next categories: 

1. On-screen representation, themes & narratives

2. Project leadership & creative practitioners

3. Industry access & opportunities

4. Opportunities for diversity in audience development. 


After the two-year trial period, on 19 June 2018 BAFTA accepted the new set of rules, requiring all entries in two British film categories – Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer –to be required to meet at least two of the four BFI Diversity Standards. 


With taking 2019 as a first official year of rules, media, as well as industry, didn't react to the lack of diversity in chosen titles and filmmakers in these categories. But comparing 2019 nominees with these years choices that somehow are meeting the standards, without a doubt a huge concern is to be raised. 


In Outstanding British Film category this year, we got:

1917 Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Callum McDougall, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Krysty Wilson-Cairns

BAIT Mark Jenkin, Kate Byers, Linn Waite

FOR SAMA Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts

ROCKETMAN Dexter Fletcher, Adam Bohling, David Furnish, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn, Lee Hall

SORRY WE MISSED YOU Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, Paul Laverty

THE TWO POPES Fernando Meirelles, Jonathan Eirich, Dan Lin, Tracey Seaward, Anthony McCarten


When it comes to the Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer nominees are:

BAIT Mark Jenkin (Writer/Director), Kate Byers, Linn Waite (Producers)

FOR SAMA Waad al-Kateab (Director/Producer), Edward Watts (Director)

MAIDEN Alex Holmes (Director)

ONLY YOU Harry Wootliff (Writer/Director)

RETABLO Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio (Writer/Director)



Even from the first look, it is obvious that BAFTA's rules have made rather small, or almost none significance because out of 9 films across these two categories, only two titles push British minorities to a front, one of the titles deals with the topic of the LGBT population and there is only one female director presented. When it comes to the nominated films across the other categories (full list of nominees here) the situation gets even worse with every chosen film. But the film professionals, as well as news media, are not buying it this year. With a huge outbreak and backlash reactions on social media and in industry news media, because BAFTA’s invisible promotion of minority film professionals in secondary positions on a film set hasn’t really solved any problems, it seems like the British film Academy will need to reconsider their approach to the lack of diversity issue for the years to come...

©Credit: Jeff Spicer / Stringer