BAFTAs slow to improve diversity, analysis shows
This year’s BAFTA nominees are startling – unfortunately just not for their talent but for the shocking lack of diversity.
Analysis by Sky News of BAFTA nominees across nine of the main categories, including best film, director and the acting categories, has found that progress has been slow over the last 10 years.
In 2015, only 5% of nominees were non-white and 21% female.
This year there was an increase, with 9% of nominees non-white and 39% female.
This year’s nominations have come under strong criticism for the all-white acting line up and lack of female directors, which critics say is dispiriting and in danger of making BAFTA irrelevant.
Gareth Ellis-Unwin is a BAFTA and Oscar-winning producer who is head of film at Screen Skills, a charity which helps those trying to break into the industry or those who are already on the inside and looking to progress.
He told Sky News: “It is an embarrassment for people like me who have been working very, very hard with the stories they’ve chosen to tell over 10-plus years to see the lack of change.
“You know, there are quite a few ambassadors for this work that are working really hard to try and make it happen. But we’ve all got to play our part.”
As a voting member of BAFTA he says he feels “disappointed”, but was quick to point out “awards are an end point of a process. So it can’t carry the burden of everything that’s come before in the industry.
“It’s the films we commission. It’s the people we allow to tell their stories. It’s the people we cast in the films. It’s the people we put on the posters. You know, this is about all of it. It can’t just be just about the awards that sit at the end of it.”
He said Screen Skills has already worked with the British Independent Film Awards, making it mandatory for voters to undertake unconscious-bias training, which has been very successful and could be an option.
“I underwent it myself and I didn’t really know what unconscious bias was. But it basically is the things that you have at the back of your mind when you’re sitting down to watch a film.”
The director of Queen And Slim, Melina Matsoukas, said: “It’s disappointing but it’s an example of our systematic racism in the powers that be. Until there’s a real dismantling of that power structure, there will be no change.”
Actor Daniel Kaluuya, who has starred in Get Out, Black Panther and Widows, said: “There’s a narrative that films with black protagonists don’t travel, and I wanted to do what I can to facilitate and to annihilate that narrative.”
The actress Carey Mulligan recently said part of the problem was that voters were not watching all of the films in the running for awards.
This sentiment was backed up by the chief executive of Time’s Up UK, Dame Heather Rabbatts, who told Sky News earlier this week: “Probably most of the members do not watch anywhere near the full number of films, so unsurprisingly the films which have had the biggest amount of marketing push will get voted on.”
As a result one of the key changes must, in her opinion, be linked to creating a system where if you vote you have to have seen the films.
BAFTA’s chief executive Amanda Barry has said the lack diversity in the nominations is “hugely disappointing”.
“Our year-round activity has many strands that focus on diversity but it is clear there is much more to be done,” she said.
“We will continue to focus our efforts to effect real change and support, and encourage, the film industry.”
BAFTA has since committed to carrying out an extensive review, and real change is now essential for it to retain its standing on the world stage.