Krista Jensen
December 21, 2016 4:26 pm
Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

We called for it, they listened: starting in 2019, a film cannot win an Outstanding British Film award at the BAFTAs if it isn’t diverse or inclusive. That’s right, if your movie looks like Good Will Hunting or anything Tim Burton has ever done, you are out of luck as far as big awards go. And that’s good! It’s a push in the right direction after films like Aloha and even this past summer’s blockbuster Doctor Strange (which gets half a point for giving the role of The Ancient One — a Tibetan man — to Tilda Swinton). We’re all for gender-swapping to advance female roles in films, but was it impossible to find a Tibetan female actress? Sounds punctilious, but these are the questions that promote progress!). Did you know Katniss Everdeen is a woman of color in her source material? That’s the point!

BAFTA’s counsel explained to the BBC this week that eligible films must showcase this new standard in diversity to take home Outstanding British Film or Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer awards (akin to our big “Best Picture”/”Best Director” Academy Awards; aka the biggest, and final, awards of the night).

”Films must prove they have worked to improve diversity in two of the four following areas: on-screen characters and themes, senior roles and crew, industry training and career progression, [and/or] audience access and appeal to under-represented audiences,” The BBC reported.

So what do you think? Is this revamp of the eligibility rules a step in the right direction? Should we have, as a group of moviegoers, been able to shape the future of diverse casting by boycotting films that don’t cast people of color; or will it always require the intervention of the academy? It’s a bold move that’s sure to get people talking, which is definitely the goal. In the new golden age of TV and movies (Breaking Bad! The Force Awakens! NETFLIX), we have access to so much talent. It’s time that everyone gets an equal chance to be honored for it.

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