Amanda Berry

Source: Bafta

Amanda Berry

Amanda Berry, CEO of Bafta, said the phones were “red hot” following the nominations for the Bafta Film Awards today as the organisation works to secure A-list talent to attend the ceremony which this year will take place on the same day as the Critics’ Choice awards in Los Angeles, Sunday March 13.

The Critics Choice awards was forced to move from its original date on January 9, 2022 due to the Omicron surge in the US.

“They’ve been very apologetic about the clash,” said Berry. “But I know what it’s like. I know how difficult it is. Nobody moves up against another ceremony willingly. The feedback we’ve had from all the distributors and publicists and agents is they are going to be supportive of the event, that they want to be supportive of the event. 

“The work starts now,” she continued. “The phone will be red hot as we reach out to everybody to find out where they are. Let’s not forget people are all around the world filming. We’re very excited that the event is back at the Royal Albert Hall and will have Europe’s biggest red carpet.”

“Fantastic list”

This year’s nominations have broadly been welcomed for the breadth of films and talent recognised. “It’s an absolutely fantastic list,” said Berry of her reaction. “The Brits are very strong and it’s also a global list.”

Additionally, Berry and Alexandra Derbyshire, deputy chair of Bafta’s film committee, suggested the wide budget range of the nominees as evidence that Bafta’s aim to make it easier for members to watch more of the eligible films had worked. They pointed to the democratising impact of the new Bafta View streaming platform as well as new voting procedures.

“The budget levels of the [nominated] films range from Dune down to really quite low-budget films,” said Derbyshire. “And that is because all of the films are now being watched. There were always good films there but [Bafta View] has given every film its platform to be watched.” 

“The whole idea was to level the playing field and ensure the members had more access to more films,” Berry added. “We created groups, we expected members to watch all the films in their group which was 15. We know people were watching many, many more. Every film was available. I do think we’ve achieved our ambition to level the playing field. Is it still a work in progress? Of course it is. It’s important to us we just keep moving forward and looking at the rules and how we operate and if we need to make any changes.”

Difficult two years

Today’s nominations come after a challenging two years for Bafta. 2020 saw no person of colour nominated in the performance categories and the subsequent #baftasowhite controversy partly prompted a far-reaching review of Bafta’s membership and voting procedures.

One of the outcomes was a shake-up of the latter for the 2021 awards that introduced variations of juries and chapter voting in every category apart from best film. This resulted in the most diverse range of nominations Bafta voters, also energised by new members, had ever produced.

But when actor and filmmaker Noel Clarke, the recipient of 2021’s honorary award for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema, was accused in The Guardian newspaper by over 20 women of bullying and sexual harassment just two weeks after the ceremony, Bafta was pulled headlong into the controversy and swiftly withdrew Clarke’s award and membership. Clarke continues to deny any accusations of sexual misconduct.

There will be no honorary prizes at the Bafta Film Awards this year as Bafta beds in a new Selection Co-ordinating Committee to oversee all the awards in its gift across film, TV and games. Instead, Berry promised there will be new elements to be announced for the ceremony to fill those gaps. Australian actress and filmmaker Rebel Wilson is hosting the awards for the first time, after several memorable stints as a category presenter. “She’s really engaged in the job at hand,” said Derbyshire of Wilson. “She’s definitely not just showing up on the night.” 

Changing of the guard

It will be Berry’s penultimate film awards as she steps down from the role in 2023. The board, led by Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar, is now searching for a new CEO, who could be announced any time from next month to next year.

Berry said that after 25 years at Bafta, and as it celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, it felt like the right time for her to “hand over the mask”.

“My big ambitions were moving the film awards before the Oscars, putting new talent at the absolute heart of what we do, and the building, which has been 12 years of work to get it where it is today.”

She said how proud she was of Bafta’s newly-refurbished headquarters in Piccadilly, London. “We’ve never fund-raised before but we’ve discovered we’re rather good at it,” she said. “It sets Bafta up for the future. There’s a whole floor dedicated to the next generation of talent. We’re going to be delivering much more new-talent activity and I’m incredibly excited about that. I’ve still got a heck of a lot to do before I go.”