Oscars: Academy unveils new diversity guidelines for Best Picture

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences publishes new rules that filmmakers will have to meet starting 2024.

Academy Awards Oscar
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been criticised for honouring few films and creators of colour [File: Mark Ralston/AFP]

The body that awards the Oscars has published detailed inclusion and diversity guidelines that filmmakers will have to meet for their work to be eligible for a Best Picture prize, starting in 2024.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has been criticised often for a heavily white and predominantly male list of nominees, on Tuesday said the standards represent a new phase of a five-year effort to promote diversity on and off-screen.

The rules lay out percentages or numbers of actors, production staff, marketing staff and internships on a film that must be filled by people of colour, women, people with disabilities or people from the LGBTQ community.

“We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry,” Academy President David Rubin and Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said in a joint statement.

The rules will not apply to films vying for Best Picture at the 2021 Oscars. For the 2022 and 2023 awards, candidates for the coveted prize will have to submit a “confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form” in order to be considered, but are not required to meet any thresholds. 

Starting in 2024, films that want to be considered for a Best Picture nomination will have to meet two of the four new standards, the Academy said.

The new guidelines

The four standards cover diversity representation among actors and subject matter; behind-the-camera staff, such as cinematographers and costume designers; paid apprenticeships and training opportunities; and marketing and publicity.

Criticism of the Academy intensified in 2016 with the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, a backlash against two consecutive years of an all-white field of acting contenders.

The latest move is the product of a new diversity task force announced in June – weeks after mass anti-racism protests swept the US following the killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Earlier this year, streaming service HBO Max added a disclaimer and an introduction to the 1939 Oscar-winning Civil War film, Gone with the Wind.

Since 2015, the Academy has doubled the number of women and people of colour in its invitation-only ranks.

It also recently began hosting a series of panel discussions on racist tropes and harmful stereotypes in Hollywood films.

Source: News Agencies