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Oscars Seek Diversity

After being routinely and loudly criticised in recent years, the Oscars has finally announced the introduction of new guidelines that are designed to improve diversity and inclusion for its most prestigious award: Best Picture.

The Academy, which oversees the prestigious annual Oscars event, has attracted strong condemnation for a lack of diversity among its winners and nominees in recent times.

However, last week, it announced the introduction of new standards, designed to "encourage equitable representation on and off-screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience."

These new regulations will come into effect for the 2024 Oscars when all entries for 'best picture' must satisfy two of four criteria - known as standards - in order to be eligible.

To qualify for Standard A, a film must meet one of three criteria, which includes having at least one lead or significant support actor from an “underrepresented racial or ethnic group”. The second criteria within Standard A requires at least 30 per cent of all actors in secondary and more minor roles to be from two “underrepresented groups”, listed by the Academy as women, racial or ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ or disabled people. The third relates to the main storyline or subject matter, which requires the film to be “centred on an underrepresented group(s)”.

Standard B is concentrates on behind-the-camera roles, including directors, editors and hairstylists and requires at least 30 per cent of them to be made up of underrepresented groups.

Standard C is a guideline for improving diversity among apprentices and interns while Standard D, titled “audience development”, requires the studio or film company to have “multiple in-house senior executives” from “underrepresented groups” on their “marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams”.

Academy president David Rubin and Academy chief executive Dawn Hudson said in a statement: “The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality. We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

It's clearly a good start, but the Academy is a famously secretive institution and only time will tell whether its new standards are deemed sufficient by the anti-Academy hecklers. The guidelines were developed by a task force in consultation with the Producers Guild of America. They also took into account diversity standards used by the British Film Institute and the British Academy of Film and Television Awards. Marc Samuelson, chair of the Bafta Film Committee said they were “delighted” about the Oscar’s new representation and inclusion standards.

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