Bafta’s Jury System Under Scrutiny: Campaigners Speak Out on Nominations and Diversity in Awards

LONDON – The 2022 Bafta Film Awards have once again sparked debate over the use of juries in key categories. This marks the fourth year that nominations have been influenced by the introduction of juries, as well as other reforms implemented by the UK’s film academy in response to the #BaftaSoWhite controversy in 2020. In an effort to gauge the response to this year’s nominations and the effectiveness of the jury system, Screen International spoke with UK-based awards campaigners who shared their thoughts on the matter.

Contrary to what one might expect, many campaigners have expressed support for the jury interventions. While the process is secretive and jurors cannot be lobbied, these campaigners understand the need for diversity and inclusivity in categories such as acting and directing. Last year’s nominations were generally well-received, as they aligned with both the jury’s decisions and the chapter and popular vote. However, this year, Bafta’s jury system has once again become a topic of contention for campaigners who spoke to Screen anonymously.

Despite the debate surrounding the jury system, campaigners have recognized the strength of this year’s film lineup. One campaigner noted that there have been conversations about snubs, but the overall list of nominees is strong. Films such as “Anatomy Of A Fall,” “The Holdovers,” “Poor Things,” “Oppenheimer,” and “Killers Of The Flower Moon” have been praised for their quality. Additionally, campaigners have highlighted the strong representation of British films and foreign-language films among the nominations.

In the director category, the top two names determined by a member vote are automatically nominated, while a jury selects four more nominees from a gender-balanced longlist. However, some campaigners have expressed disappointment with the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations. Despite a strong year for female directors, there is only one woman among the nominees. Names like Celine Song, Greta Gerwig, and Sofia Coppola were available to the jury but not selected.

The criticism of the jury system extends to the acting categories as well. Each category has its own jury, and the nominations have raised questions about consistency. Some actors have been nominated while others have been overlooked, leading to confusion and disappointment among campaigners. The acting categories are determined by a combination of member voting and the decisions of separate juries.

Similar debates and inconsistencies have arisen in the outstanding British film and outstanding British debut categories. The nomination process for these categories involves a combination of member voting and jury selection. Some campaigners have questioned the decisions made by the juries, particularly in relation to notable omissions in the outstanding British debut category.

On a positive note, the campaigners have praised the selection of nominees in the foreign-language and documentary categories. Although not everyone may agree with all the choices, the overall nominations are considered representative of the best in foreign-language cinema and documentary filmmaking.

While the Bafta nominations have elicited criticism and discussion, it is important to remember that voting processes in film awards often lead to surprises and disagreements. The use of juries in key categories has brought the jury process itself into focus, with supporters and critics voicing their opinions. As the awards ceremony approaches, Bafta will undoubtedly review and evaluate its voting processes.