BAFTA’s bosses stand by the involvement of juries in the core categories of the org’s film awards, but note that annual reviews will continue to interrogate and potentially refine the process.
The British Academy faced scrutiny for the 2022 Film Awards, where only two nominees in each performance category were the result of voting, and four were selected by a jury, while six director nominees were selected by a jury. The resulting nominations were refreshingly diverse, but were criticized in some circles for not having more confidence in BAFTA’s membership and voting chapters.
In July 2022, BAFTA changed its process again and nominations for the 2023 awards saw an even split between voting-based nominees and jury-based nominees in each performance category. Meanwhile, the directing category has two vote-based nominees and four jury-based nominees.
“The only reason we have a jury is to make sure that all the entries on that list are seen by every single person who votes there. And if it’s about leveling the playing field, that’s why we do it,” explains BAFTA Chairman Krishnandu Majumder. “We are completely transparent about the make-up and diversity and experience of the jury. They are all BAFTA members.”
BAFTA Film Committee Chair Anna Higgs added: “It’s also very important to remember that the jury is not picking people from every single entrant. They are only choosing from the very top rated performances, directors, films, etc. in their categories. So they’re still selecting from what all of our memberships think is great in certain chapters.”
It’s not about a lack of confidence in the membership, Higgs said, but about “the continuation of all these interventions to ensure that level playing field”.
Will the jury always be in place? Majumder said the organization reviews the award voting process every year and will respond accordingly. After each award, all data is collected, crunched and reviewed and refined, so changes were made last summer to slightly reduce jury participation in some categories.
BAFTA now has three years — and a second awards cycle — to implement the findings of the 2020 diversity review, which made a massive 120 changes to the way the awards and organization are run. The fact that 14 of the 24 nominees in the performance category received their first BAFTA film nominations this year is a clear reflection of those changes.
“It’s been a huge team effort, not just by everyone at BAFTA, but by everyone in the industry,” Majumder said. “We all came together and we listened – and that’s the main thing. We are always responding to what is happening in the industry. We wanted to level the playing field, see more work and remove some of its barriers and unconscious biases.”
Majumder, however, allows that there is “no silver bullet” to change the awards landscape in Britain. “It’s not as simple as changing membership demographics and diversity. It’s about marketing spend and various interlocking factors.”
The 2023 awards will be the final awards season for Majumder, who stepped down this summer. The executive, who runs production company Me + You, was instrumental in expanding BAFTA’s membership and improving its diversity. He led the ground-breaking 2020 review of the org and its awards function.
Elsewhere, discussing the relocation of the BAFTA Film Awards, which are moving from the Royal Albert Hall to the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, executives cited a desire to centralize the location of the BAFTA Film, TV and Games Awards and also make the event more accessible.
“We wanted to engage the British public on the BBC and iPlayer as much as possible about the awards,” says Higgs. “The fact that we already host the TV and Games Awards at home means bringing all the shows under one roof and means it’s still our most accessible venue for the Film Awards. It will be a fully ramped stage for any guests who need access, who can access any part of the building.
The ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall means the post-awards dinner — a lavish affair attended by most of the nominees and winners — will be held under the same roof, eliminating the usual hassle of taking taxis to other venues.
Higgs confirmed, however, that the location of the award will be reviewed on an annual basis, meaning the location could change again for 2024.