Hailed as a “watershed moment for BAFTA” by chair Krishnendu Majumdar, the changes were unveiled Thursday following the conclusion of the primary phase of a comprehensive, eye-opening and, at times, painful seven-month internal and external review, launched in response to the controversy that erupted following the 2020 BAFTA Film nominations in January when all-white nominees made up the highest acting categories and therefore the director category did not include one female filmmaker.
The changes — considered the most important BAFTA has ever implemented — includes the introduction of a replacement longlist round in voting to realize greater diversity; increasing the nominations and making rule changes to many categories, including acting and directing; making film viewing compulsory for all voters in one round of voting; a big expansion of BAFTA’s voting members that targets those from under-represented groups; and pushing screenings onto a replacement digital platform.
“This may be a watershed moment for BAFTA. The Academy has never opened itself up like this before,” said Majumdar, who led the review alongside film committee chair Marc Samuelson and a specially formed steering group.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Majumdar described the changes as a “wholesale” and “interlocking,” claiming that they might make the Academy stronger. But he admitted that the discussions — which were had with quite 400 people from across the industry — had often been “incredibly uncomfortable” which he and Samuelson had “broken down and wept” on several occasions after hearing first-hand testimonies of how individual had been subjected to racism and discrimination. “I didn’t sleep one night,” he said.
Throughout the review, a good array of potential alterations to the BAFTA awards that would impact diversity levels were debated and discussed, including quota levels and even a category solely dedicated to female directors. But ultimately BAFTA said the choice was made to not tell voters what to vote for, but to vary the culture and make them more conscious of their responsibilities.
“I think the keynote is that we’re leveling the playing field,” said Majumdar. “That’s what people wanted, people didn’t need a guarantee of a quota in terms of diversity. they only wanted their work to be seen then judged on a more level playing field, so then there’s the chance and chance to be nominated.”