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Bafta CEO calls lack of diversity in nomination list 'disappointing'

'It’s clear there is much more to be done' says Bafta boss, as 'For Sama' becomes most nominated documentary in this history of the awards

Margot Robbie arrives at the 77th Golden Globe Awards. Reuters 
Margot Robbie arrives at the 77th Golden Globe Awards. Reuters 

Even Bafta's chief executive admits the lack of diversity in the list of nominees for this year's awards is disappointing. The list received considerable backlash online after it was revealed that not a single person of colour was listed in the leading or supporting actor and actress categories.

The hashtag #BAFTAsSoWhite began trending on social media, echoing the criticism the Oscars faced in 2015 and 2016.

“The lack of diversity in today’s nominations is hugely disappointing to see,” Bafta chief executive Amanda Berry said. “Our year-round activity has many strands that focus on diversity. It’s clear there is much more to be done and we plan to double down on our efforts to affect real change and to continue to support and encourage the industry on the urgency of doing so much more.”

There are 18 people in the running for the best actor and actress categories. Some, such as Margot Robbie, even have more than one nomination in the race. Notable snubs were Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name, Lupita Nyong'o for Us and The Farewell’s Awkwafina. This is not the first time the Baftas have come under fire for a lack of diversity in their nomination list, with the awards facing similar criticism in 2017. The EE Rising Star Award is the only category with a diverse list of nominations this year, with stars including Micheal Ward, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Awkwafina.

Joker leads this year’s nominations with 11, followed by Netflix crime-drama The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood, both of which received 10 nominations. All three films are in contention for the Best Film award, along with First World War epic 1917 and South Korean hit and Golden Globe-winner Parasite.

For Sama: making history at the Baftas

Despite a lack of diversity among the nominations, there are some silver linings to be found. For Sama, a Syrian documentary shot over five years from inside besieged Aleppo, has become the most-nominated documentary in the history of the Baftas.

The film has been nominated in four categories: Documentary, Outstanding British Film, Film Not in English Language and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

For Sama, made by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts, follows the intimate and epic journey of Al Kateab through five years of her life in the rebel-held city as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to her first daughter, Sama.

The nominations continue a golden run for the film, which was awarded the Prix L’Oeil d’Or for Best Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. It also took home four trophies at the British Independent Film Awards in December, including the award for best British Independent Film.

Nevine Mabro, an executive producer on the film, was delighted it received so many nominations. “Waad Al Kateab is a young Syrian filmmaker who is now a refugee living and working in the UK," she said. "I am delighted that her directorial debut For Sama has been recognised with four Bafta nominations, including outstanding British film.

“This is an incredible achievement for a young woman who just three years ago we feared would not make it out of Aleppo alive.

“We have worked hard to find and develop diverse talent and these array of nominations are hugely encouraging for young women filmmakers everywhere.”

Updated: January 8, 2020 01:15 PM

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