A quarter of BAFTA film awards exclude women in 2018

When the story broke about BAFTA not nominating any female directors for their film award a journalist for a national newspaper contacted me for my comment.

I was disappointed that Dee Rees low budget, World War II epic Mudbound starring Suffragette actor Carey Mulligan was not nominated for Director - or in any category. Nor was Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman. (Mudbound is on Netflix so do watch it.)

I sent the journalist a reply and it wasn’t used for their article. But several things went through my mind. Would I even have time to send a reply? Why hadn’t I written about it myself? (my Time Poverty is a separate blog – if I can find the time to write it.) Female Arts is on the map. Guilt that I’ve had so little time for Female Arts - and we've spent 7 years championing gender equality in the arts.

So here I am at four thirty in the morning blogging for Female Arts.

BAFTA have 24 film awards and of these only 4 are categorised by gender – Leading Actor and Supporting Actor, Leading Actress and Supporting Actress. We don’t like the word ‘actress’ at Female Arts. Our first suggestion for BAFTA is to change these awards titles to Male Actor and Female Actor.

Of the remaining awards there are 5 more categories which didn’t receive a female nominee this year – Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Original Music and Special Visual Effects.* Including Director, this makes 6 BAFTA film awards that will not recognise women for artistic achievement in 2018.

Except for the Actress awards, men were nominated in every category. Including Costume Design and Make Up & Hair. Yet a quarter of all of the BAFTA film awards excluded women this year.

The picture becomes bleaker if we look at the nominees another way (which I’ve just spent an hour analysing – gender audit of the nominees). Excluding the four actor awards which are already nominated by gender, there were 186 nominees* for a film BAFTA. 146 were men. Only 40 women. Approximately 21% or a fifth of nominees are female.

Why are so few women nominated?

Only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female** So the academy would have had fewer films directed by women to consider - immediately the odds are against us. You could argue that the statistics of female input in films is adequately reflected in the nominees at 20%. This ignores that females are the majority of the worlds population at 52%.

Some are arguing that having no female director nominees for a BAFTA betrays the #metoo message. It is more complex than this. There are so many barriers to women entering or staying in professions, some are intersectional and #metoo is just one of them. They all have to be addressed for there to be any substantial difference. Awards are at the end of the film-making process. The barriers that exclude women from being involved in making a film in the first place have to be removed – or smashed. Including patriarchy.

But at every stage in a process, someone can do something to improve gender parity. Look at Tonic Theatre’s work ‘Advance’ with leading performing arts institutions*** - where there is a will, there is a way.

So even though BAFTA (and other awards bodies) are at the end of the film making process, they can change their procedures to increase the % of women nominated for and winning awards.

Some suggestions for BAFTA:

1) Have gendered awards. e.g. Best Female Director (and Best Male Director). This ensures that female directors will always be nominated for and win awards for film (which is the case for the actor categories). Does it help to have gender binary awards?

2) Start a quota for every awards category to include at least 2 films with female nominees. This will ensure nominations if not awards.

3) Increase transparency over the judging process. Has does the film committee vote for and reach consensus on nominees? (the 6,500 members of BAFTA vote for the winners from the nominees. I did not have time to do a gender audit of BAFTA members). Arguably there has always been male bias when choosing winners - as men direct more films and are nominated more and win more awards.

4) Reach out to grassroots organisations who have been advocating for change for years. Many, like Female Arts need funding, partners and adequate resources for us to effectively challenge the status quo. At the Golden Globes 8 activists accompanied stars to the ceremony**** We all need this problem to be more visible and for those advocating to be supported.

It’s now 7.35am and I have to get my son ready for school. The personal is political.

(c) Wendy Thomson 2018

The film nominees for the BAFTA awards were announced on the 9th January 2018. http://www.bafta.org/media-centre/press-releases/film-awards-nominations...

* as of publishing, the nominees for 2 films in the Special Visual Effects award category were still to be announced.

Studies and statistics on women in film:

*** http://www.tonictheatre-advance.co.uk/

**** https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jan/08/golden-globes-activists-tim...

BAFTA members http://www.bafta.org/about/membership/list-of-full-members-of-the-academy

Other articles on BAFTA lack of female director nominees

The article I was contacted for comment: https://www.pressreader.com/uk/scottish-daily-mail/20180110/281715500012029

Author's review: