Bafta has made temporary changes to its eligibility rules for the 2021 film awards, taking into consideration months of cinema closures due to the ongoing virus crisis.
The rule changes have been introduced to ensure titles which had an intended theatrical release are not penalised due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on UK cinemas, which have remained closed since March 20.
The changes, which have been made following consultation with the industry, will be reviewed at the end of July to take into consideration any further changes around film production, distribution and exhibition. The UK government has set July 4 as the provisional date when cinemas can reopen, as part of a phased lifting of the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
Bafta confirmed yesterday (June 16) that next year’s Film Awards will be held on Sunday April 11, 2021, two months later than the existing date of February 14 and following a similar date change announced by the Oscars.
The date for the 2022 Film Awards, announced last year as February 13, is also under consideration as part of the ongoing awards review into voting procedures, membership and eligibility that was ordered after the 2020 film awards were criticised for their lack of diversity.
Marc Samuelson, chair of Bafta’s film committee, said: “We have pushed back by two months to give all films the best possible chance to be released and considered properly. As cinemas gradually re-open we know that the major releases will dominate screens.
“Relaxing the scale of theatrical release required, including releases on VoD in some cases, and pushing back the date of the awards should help the smaller, independent, documentary, foreign language and particularly the British films to be seen in good time for EE British Academy Film Awards in 2021.
“The date of the 2021 Awards has to be set now to allow distributors to make plans, but the current Awards Review is considering all aspects of the Awards, including the date from 2022, and our relationship to other awards ceremonies.”
Temporary changes for the 2021 film awards are as follows:
1. Titles which were on theatrical release when cinemas closed and therefore had their theatrical release curtailed, will be eligible regardless of the number of qualifying screenings they had.
2. Titles whose confirmed theatrical release date (as determined by the Film Distributors Association) has fallen during the cinema lockdown will be eligible should their release change to an approved commercial VoD platform. These titles can be released at any time during the 2020–21 eligibility period.
3. Titles which were intended for theatrical release during the cinema lockdown, but without a confirmed and published release date, will be eligible should they release on an approved commercial VoD platform during lockdown. After lockdown, on a date determined by Bafta and once cinemas re-open, these titles will only be eligible if they are given a theatrical release.
4. On a date to be determined by Bafta and once cinemas re-open, all remaining titles, barring the exceptions outlined in points 2 & 3, must be released theatrically within the eligibility period in order to qualify.
5. All titles released theatrically for the rest of the eligibility period will have a lower qualifying threshold to meet: a minimum of one screening per day for seven days (in aggregate).
6. Titles qualifying via release on an approved commercial VoD platform must be available for a minimum of 30 days to UK audiences.
7. All titles must also be made available to Bafta voting members on ‘BAFTA View’ (Bafta’s online viewing site) as soon as possible after the date of release and within 60 days of release (theatrical or online) for a minimum of 30 consecutive days. All titles should be available to voting members via BAFTA View by the date that Round One voting opens (date to be announced autumn 2020).
8. All releases, whether theatrical or on VoD, must be released within the Film 2020-21 eligibility period – this period will be announced autumn 2020.
The full timeline as well as the rules and regulations for the 2021 Film Awards will be published this autumn, and will include any additional rule changes.