The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which oversees one of the most prestigious film awards, the Oscars, on Tuesday (September 8) announced its new representation and inclusion standards, which will be used to select winners for awards across various categories.
The academy said the new standards were being introduced to encourage equitable representation on and off-screen “in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.”
In 2018, when Frances McDormand won an Oscar for Best Actress, she ended her acceptance speech by saying, “I have two words for you: inclusion rider”, which refers to a clause that actors can insist on being included in their contracts. Such a clause requires that there be a certain level of diversity in the film’s cast and crew.
This year, South Korean film Parasite became the first non-English film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, which is handed over to the producers of a film.
Apart from the Oscars, the Berlin International Film Festival recently announced that starting next year, it would give out gender-neutral acting awards, as a move towards creating a more “gender-sensitive awareness” in the film industry.
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What are the new standards?
The new standards apply to the category of Best Picture alone. The move is a part of the academy’s initiative called A2020, which it undertook in 2016 with the aim of setting specific inclusion goals that would double the number of women and underrepresented ethnic or racial communities. Over five years ago, the hashtag “OscarsSoWhite” was started as a social justice campaign, after the academy did not nominate any actors of colour for two years in a row.
As per the new standards, for the 94th Oscars (2022) and 95th Oscars (2023), submitting a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form will be required. However, meeting inclusion thresholds will not be required for eligibility in the Best Picture category until the 96th Oscars (2024).
These standards include having at least one lead or significant supporting actors from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group (Asian, Hispanics, Black/African American), having at least 30 per cent of all actors in secondary and minor roles from at least two of the underrepresented categories (women, racial or ethnic group, LGBTQ+ etc.) and having the main storyline, theme or narrative of the film centered on an underrepresented group. These three conditions are part of standard A, the fulfillment of which requires meeting at least one of the three crtieria.
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Overall, there are four such standards and the other three pertain to creative leadership and the project team (standard B), industry access and opportunities (standard c) and audience development (standard D). For instance, under standard B, one of the criteria requires that from the overall crew composition, at least 30 per cent be from underrepresented groups. For the 96th Oscars (2024), a film must satisfy at least two of the four standards to be eligible for a nomination under the Best Picture category.
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