'Laughable': Anger as BAFTA awards recognise only white actors

Lack of diversity highlighted as all 20 nominees in acting categories for UK film body's awards are white.

    The winners will be announced at a ceremony on February 2 at London's Royal Albert Hall [File: Dylan Martinez/Reuters]
    The winners will be announced at a ceremony on February 2 at London's Royal Albert Hall [File: Dylan Martinez/Reuters]

    Cinema fans and critics have slammed a United Kingdom film body over a lack of diversity among the nominees for its annual film awards.

    All 20 acting nominees for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards, announced on Tuesday, were white.

    All best director nominees were men for the seventh consecutive year, and four out of five were white.

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    Marc Samuelson, the chair of BAFTA's film committee, blamed the "infuriating lack of diversity" in the acting nominations on industry-wide failings in representation.

    "It's just a frustration that the industry is not moving as fast as certainly the whole BAFTA team would like it to be," he told Variety magazine.

    However, social media users were quick to point out acclaimed performances by actors such as Lupita Nyong'o in the film Us.

    Meanwhile, white actresses Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie received two nominations each, prompting one Twitter user to say: "It's actually laughable how Bafta went out of their way not to nominate a woc [woman of colour]."

    On Sunday, United States rapper Awkwafina made history, becoming the first Asian-American woman to take home a Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her role in The Farewell.

    Awkwafina
    Golden Globe winner Awkwafina was not included among the BAFTA nominees [Mike Blake/Reuters]

    Awkwafina was included in BAFTA's EE Rising Star category, in a more diverse group that included Michael Ward, Jack Lowden, Kelvin Harrison Jr, and Kaityln Dever.

    The EE Rising Star award is the only BAFTA category for which the public can vote.

    Several critics had hoped Greta Gerwig - who was also snubbed by the Golden Globes - would receive a BAFTA nomination for her reworking of Little Women.

    Speaking to the BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry said she was "disappointed" by the lack of gender diversity in the directing category, but noted that 13 female directors were nominated in other categories, including Best Short Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

    Greta Gerwig
    Directors Joanna Hogg and Greta Gerwig (pictured) were notably absent among the BAFTA nominees for Best Direction [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

    Asad Dhunna, founder of The Unmistakables, a culture and communications consultancy, told Al Jazeera that diversity in awards events could help encourage better representation in the film industry.

    "People need to see themselves reflected in all industries for them to believe they have a place within them," he told Al Jazeera.

    "We need to see more original storytelling and narratives that truly reflect British diversity ... It's not just about celebrating existing talent in the arts. It's about recognising and elevating the contribution of artists of different backgrounds so that others can follow on their paths."

    Among the films nominated, Todd Phillips's Joker received 11 nominations, while Martin Scorsese's The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood scored 10 nods each.

    For Sama, a harrowing look at the female experience of war shot over four years in the Syrian city of Aleppo, became the most-nominated documentary in BAFTA history, with four nominations. 

    The winners will be announced at a ceremony on February 2 at London's Royal Albert Hall.

    See the full list of nominees below:

    Best Film

    1917

    The Irishman

    Joker

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Parasite

    Outstanding British Film

    1917

    Bait

    For Sama

    Rocketman

    Sorry We Missed You

    The Two Popes

    Leading Actress

    Jessie Buckley - Wild Rose

    Scarlett Johansson - Marriage Story

    Saoirse Ronan - Little Women

    Charlize Theron - Bombshell

    Renee Zellweger - Judy

    Leading Actor

    Leonardo DiCaprio - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Adam Driver - Marriage Story

    Taron Egerton - Rocketman

    Joaquin Phoenix - Joker

    Jonathan Pryce - The Two Popes

    Supporting Actress

    Laura Dern - Marriage Story

    Scarlett Johansson - Jojo Rabbit

    Florence Pugh - Little Women

    Margot Robbie - Bombshell

    Margot Robbie - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Supporting Actor

    Tom Hanks - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    Anthony Hopkins - The Two Popes

    Al Pacino - The Irishman

    Joe Pesci - The Irishman

    Brad Pitt - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Director

    Sam Mendes - 1917

    Martin Scorsese - The Irishman

    Todd Phillips - Joker

    Quentin Tarantino - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Bong Joon-ho - Parasite

    EE Rising Star Award

    Awkwafina

    Jack Lowden

    Kaitlyn Dever

    Kelvin Harrison Jr

    Michael Ward

    Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer

    Bait

    For Sama

    Maiden

    Only You

    Retablo

    Film Not in the English Language

    The Farewell

    For Sama

    Pain and Glory

    Parasite

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Documentary

    American Factory

    Apollo 11

    For Sama

    Diego Maradona

    The Great Hack 

    Animated Film

    Frozen 2

    Klaus

    A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

    Toy Story 4

    Original Screenplay

    Booksmart

    Knives Out

    Marriage Story

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Parasite

    Adapted Screenplay

    The Irishman

    Jojo Rabbit

    Joker

    Little Women

    The Two Popes

    Original Score

    1917

    Jojo Rabbit

    Joker

    Little Women

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Cinematography

    1917

    The Irishman

    Joker

    Le Mans '66 (Ford v Ferrari)

    The Lighthouse

    Costume Design

    The Irishman

    Jojo Rabbit

    Judy

    Little Women

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Editing

    The Irishman

    Jojo Rabbit

    Joker 

    Le Mans '66 (Ford v Ferrari)

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Production Design

    1917

    The Irishman

    Jojo Rabbit

    Joker

    Once Upon a Time  in Hollywood

    Make Up and Hair

    1917

    Bombshell

    Joker

    Judy

    Rocketman

    Sound

    1917

    Joker 

    Le Mans '66 (Ford v Ferrari)

    Rocketman

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Special Visual Effects

    1917

    Avengers: Endgame

    The Irishman

    The Lion King

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Casting 

    Joker

    Marriage Story

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    The Personal History of David Copperfield

    The Two Popes

    British Short Film

    Azaar

    Goldfish

    Kamali

    Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)

    The Trap

    British Short Animation

    Grandad Was A Romantic

    In Her Boots

    The Magic Boat

     

    Charlotte Mitchell contributed to this report.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News