US decorator and production designer Florencia Martin and Anthony production designer Anthony Carlino pose with the award for Best production design for ‘Babylon’ during the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, in London, on February 19, 2023. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
London: The Bafta Film Awards was denounced by critics for its all-White winners list despite a recent overhaul that was meant to make the process more diverse.
Ethnic minorities made up almost 40% of the acting shortlist roles but didn’t take home any of the 49 awards at the British ceremony in London on Sunday, which is the British equivalent of the Academy Awards.
Bafta took a series of steps in 2020 to boost the diversity of actors and film-makers shortlisted after the nominations list that year was all-White. The reforms involved increasing the number of nominees as well as adding more voting members from minority groups. After two consecutive years in which half of the acting winners were not White, this year’s ceremony is seen as a step backwards.
“The actual demographic breakdown of Bafta voters is not transparent so while reforms were done, we don’t know who the overall voter body is,” said film critic and Bafta short film jury member Ashanti Omkar. “Perhaps if Bafta also employed a more transparent approach, where voters are not just going to screenings, or viewing films at home, but also allowed to talk and debate with each other, over Zoom, like the British Independent Film Awards does, it might bring about more conscious voting.”
Defending the ceremony, a Bafta spokesperson said the 2020 overhaul “is not an end-process” adding that the eligibility criteria is reviewed every year. Bafta declined to comment on the lack of diversity among the winners.
This year’s winners mostly came from only three films – Elvis, The Banshee of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front, which have White leads. This contrasts with the Oscars, where Everything Everywhere All at Once, a movie with a number of Asian leads, is leading the race with 11 nominations. It didn’t win any of the acting awards at the Baftas despite nominations in major categories.
The hashtag #BaftasSoWhite, which was first used more than half a decade ago, started trending again after the ceremony. The only people of color on stage were in either hosting or presenting capacities, like Alison Hammond or Ariana DeBose, who opened the ceremony with a musical number.
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