The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced temporary changes to its film eligibility rules for the EE British Academy Film Awards for 2021. These changes are in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which resulted in UK cinemas closing on 20 March, and are the result of extensive industry consultation. They have been implemented to ensure that titles that had an intended theatrical release are not penalised due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on cinemas. The changes outlined below will be reviewed at the end of July 2020, taking into consideration the constantly evolving circumstances of film production, distribution, and exhibition at this unprecedented time.
BAFTA has also confirmed that next year’s Film Awards will be held on Sunday 11 April 2021. This change from the previously announced date of 14 February acknowledges the impact of the global pandemic and accommodates an extended eligibility period. Further details on the ceremony will be announced later in the year.
Marc Samuelson, Chair of the Film Committee, commented: “We have pushed back by two months to give all films the best possible chance to be released and considered properly. As cinemas gradually re-open we know that the major releases will dominate screens. Relaxing the scale of theatrical release required, including releases on VOD in some cases, and pushing back the date of the Awards should help the smaller, independent, documentary, foreign language, and particularly the British films to be seen in good time for EE British Academy Film Awards in 2021. The date of the 2021 Awards has to be set now to allow distributors to make plans, but the current Awards Review is considering all aspects of the Awards, including the date from 2022, and our relationship to other awards ceremonies.”
Temporary changes for the 2021 Ceremony are as follows:
Titles which were on theatrical release when cinemas closed and therefore had their theatrical release curtailed will be eligible regardless of the number of qualifying screenings they had.
Titles whose confirmed theatrical release date (as determined by the Film Distributors Association) has fallen during the cinema lockdown will be eligible should their release change to an approved commercial VOD platform. These titles can be released at any time during the 2020–21 eligibility period.
Titles that were intended for theatrical release during the cinema lockdown, but without a confirmed and published release date, will be eligible should they release on an approved commercial VOD platform during the lockdown. After lockdown, on a date determined by BAFTA and once cinemas re-open, these titles will only be eligible if they are given a theatrical release.
On a date to be determined by BAFTA and once cinemas re-open, all remaining titles, barring the exceptions outlined in points 2 & 3, must be released theatrically within the eligibility period in order to qualify.
All titles released theatrically for the rest of the eligibility period will have a lower qualifying threshold to meet: a minimum of one screening per day for seven days (in aggregate).
Titles qualifying via a release on an approved commercial VOD platform must be available for a minimum of 30 days to UK audiences.
All titles must also be made available to BAFTA voting members on ‘BAFTA View’ (BAFTA’s online viewing site) as soon as possible after the date of release and within 60 days of release (theatrical or online) for a minimum of 30 consecutive days. All titles should be available to voting members via BAFTA View by the date that Round One voting opens (date to be announced autumn 2020).
All releases, whether theatrical or on VOD, must be released within the Film 2020-21 eligibility period – this period will be announced autumn 2020.
BAFTA is currently undertaking a review of its membership, nominations and voting processes, previously announced after this year’s BAFTA Film Nominations. Findings and recommendations from the review will be shared later this year.
Alongside the Review, BAFTA will continue to roll out BFI Diversity Standards as a requirement for eligibility across the Games and Television Awards, as well as tightening the requirements, and looking to introduce them across other categories within the Film Awards. BAFTA became the first awards organisation to introduce diversity criteria, in 2018, and is delighted with the news that AMPAS is adopting diversity standards as a qualifying condition moving forward. BAFTA looks forward to continuing work with the BFI, the Academy, and other international partners to effect real change
The full timeline and Rules & Regulations for the Film Awards in 2021 will be published autumn 2020. These will include any additional rule changes.
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