Bafta generic

Source: BAFTA/Thomas Alexander


Bafta has tightened up rules around campaigning and updated the best director category as part of new voting rules and eligibility criteria unveiled today for the 2024 film awards.

For best director, changes introduced for the 2021 awards created a gender-balanced longlist of 16, comprising eight male and eight female directors, determined by Round One director chapter voting, plus the interventions of the longlisting jury. For 2024, up to 17 directors could be longlisted – including directors who identify as non-binary, and retaining gender parity between men and women.

At the longlisting stage, 10 or 11 directors will be automatically longlisted after Round One director chapter voting, with gender parity between men and women. Non-binary directors will be automatically longlisted if they match the voting range of the male and female directors that are automatically longlisted. A longlisting jury will determine the final places on the longlist, choosing from the next eight ranked male directors and eight ranked female directors, and any non-binary directors landing within the same voting range.

As before, the two directors with the highest number of votes, regardless of gender, will be automatically nominated. A jury will choose four nominees from the other 14 or 15 names on the longlist, making six director nominees.

There have been no other alterations to jury intervention. Last year, in spite of interventions helping to encourage a diverse crop of nominations, the winners on the night at the Bafta film awards were overwhelmingly white.

Bafta Film did not consider a radical overhaul, such as juries picking winners, as per the Bafta TV awards, according to Emma Baehr, executive director of awards and content.

“By putting in interventions, you might have a small shift,” she said, “but you need to look long-term, how do you keep levelling the playing field? Our job is to make sure all the films have the opportunity to be viewed by as many members as possible, whether that’s for membership or chapter voting, or the juries. We’ve been focusing on that, and making sure films are considered on merit and get to be seen, rather than finding ways of changing or fixing voting. That’s not what we’re here to do.”

Lengths of longlists (bar the best director category) have also not changed, after longlists were shortened for the 2023 awards owing to a compressed period for voting in the run up to the awards.

“We’re trying to encourage people to watch throughout the year, rather than save everything to the last week. We’re encouraging films to come on early on Bafta View and we want to give more opportunities for people to watch screenings throughout the year,” added Baehr.

Campaigning tightened

Detailed guidance and regulations on campaigning, hosting screenings and communicating with voters has now been set out in a dedicated handbook for entrants and Bafta members, which can be found in full on the Bafta website. Rules were significantly tightened as part of the 2020 Bafta Review, with the aim of ensuring “a fair and equitable process for entrants regardless of their origin, networks or marketing and PR budget”.

“For FYC [for your consideration] emails, the restrictions in terms of the numbers and how often have not changed, the content of those emails have changed a bit – we’re allowing a little more in terms of including direct links to Q&As,” said Deirdre Hopkins, head of film at Bafta. “We’ve included our members’ code of conduct about how they should behave at screenings, and more information about remaining neutral on social media, not declaring preferences and lobbying.”

“We want people to be able to celebrate their films, it’s all their hard work,” added Baehr. “Everything about the Review was about levelling the playing field. We talked about unconscious bias and influencing voting. You can celebrate and talk about the film [on social media], but you can’t influence others about voting. It’s just making that crystal clear.” This applies to both campaigners and voters.

Clarity is also provided regarding members’ private (residential) screenings. As these do not qualify as FYC screenings, entrants, distributors and studios are not permitted to organise, fund, host or promote these. In Round Three of voting, virtual screenings are not permitted unless accompanied by a new Q&A.

Eligibility updates

UK-based productions will be required to provide information about meeting BFI’s new Diversity Standards as Bafta’s eligibility for Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut transitions from a minimum of two (standard C + 1) to the BFI’s new diversity standards requirement to include standard E (accessibility). 2024 will be a transition year for qualifying films to allow the industry to become familiar with the new BFI diversity standards. Films not meeting the new mandatory elements on accessibility will still pass under the previous rules. Meeting the standards will not be a requirement for entry for international titles.

A sustainability policy will be a requirement for films submitted for Outstanding British Film, otherwise an appeal will be necessary.

UK-based productions are now required to have a policy in place to tackle bullying and harassment, if entering Outstanding British Film or Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer categories. This was first introduced in 2022, but was not mandatory. To support this rule change going forward, free guidance and policy templates will be made available from Creative UK in the coming weeks.

“Progress has been made,” said Baehr of the policy. “But we still have so much work to do. We wanted to send a really clear message to the industry that they need to have this policy in place, ensuring there’s a reporting process, and employers take responsibility to promote safe working environments.”

Changes to theatrical eligibility have also not been introduced for the 2024 awards. Films must be available to the UK public for the first time in the UK between January 1 2023 and February 16, 2024. There is an exception for film not in the English language and documentaries which are eligible if they have been made available to the UK public for the first time between January 1 2023 and March 22 2024. The start of the eligibility period for the 2025 awards will be January 1 2024.

The awards will take place on Sunday February 18. Read more key dates in the build-up to the awards here