The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) has confirmed it aims to move its film awards to a pre-Academy Awards slot in a bid to focus worldwide attention on the ceremony as a pointer for the Oscars.
Bafta said that a planned move from April 9 to February 25 is still dependent on support from distributors, but a pre-Oscar slot is expected to win wide support from the industry and press as a way of dramatically raising the event's significance. Bafta met with about 75 members of the distribution sector on Tuesday to discuss the move and expects to hear back in a week.
"Our intention is to move pre-Oscars," said Bafta's Amanda Berry. "We have met to discuss matters with film distributors because we cannot do it without their help."
While some distributors may feel that the move causes too many logistical problems, supporters argue that Bafta could be an ideal pointer to the Oscars. A move to February 25 would mean the ceremony would fall only a month before the Oscars. Even the Golden Globes, traditionally taken as a bellweather for the Oscars, come as far back as January.
Adding to the awards' potential significance, Bafta has steadfastly remained an international rather than a purely British showcase. Many country's national film prizes are timed to benefit from pre-Oscar hoopla, but are only for local titles.
This year's awards ceremony secured a prestigious line-up of stars including Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and Cate Blanchett, plus strong local newspaper coverage the day after. But some BAFTA insiders feel that the event's impact may be limited by coming only two weeks after the Oscars. One film committee member said that some people felt the event had a sense of "deja-vu". American Beauty repeated its Oscar triumph by winning in six categories including best film.