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Oscars release new rules so the Best Picture will always be more diverse, including LGBT+

Oscars release new rules so the Best Picture will always be more diverse, including LGBT+

  • Academy Awards tells filmmakers to tell more LGBT+ stories, hire more diverse teams and showcase a wider talent pool.
Scene from Moonlight.

The Oscars has released new rules to ensure filmmakers competing for its prestigious Best Picture awards are more inclusive – including of LGBT+.

The rules will force producers to tell more diverse stories. And it pushes them to hire more LGBT+ people, people of color, women, and people with ‘cognitive or physical disabilities’.

It’s the latest sign the Academy Awards is attempting to change course over inclusivity.

Over the years critics have accused the Academy of being white and male dominated.

In particular they point out that only three women have ever had nominations in the Best Director category. The Oscars have never nominated a lesbian, bi or trans director, even the legendary Dorothy Arzner.

Meanwhile the 2016 Oscars saw no non-white people achieve nominations in acting categories. That sparked the ‘Oscars so White’ campaign to force change.

Variety says the Academy will start to phase in the new inclusivity rules for the 94th and 95th awards, in 2022 and 2023. In those years, films seeking the Best Picture gong will have to submit a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form.

Then, from 2024 onwards, films will have to meet at least two of the four new diversity standards to have a chance of winning.

Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a joint statement: 

‘The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality.’

LGBT+ Oscar success

The Oscars have given relatively few awards to LGBT+ themes and stars over its history. However, there have been some notable breakthroughs, particularly in the last few years.

In particular, black queer story Moonlight stormed to an unpredicted win for Best Picture in 2017.

Meanwhile the Academy heralded 2019 as its most inclusive year ever. Films as wide-ranging as The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born achieved recognition.

Who the Academy wants to include

However, the new rules push visibility further.

They cover LGBT+ actors and storylines. But they also try to make Hollywood hire more diverse talent across the industry

Along with LGBT+ people they include women and people with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Meanwhile the racial inclusion list specifies Hispanic or Latinx, black or African American, indigenous, Middle Eastern or North African and a range of other ethnic groups.

Four routes to Oscar diversity

The rules set out four standards. And filmmakers have to achieve at least two of the four to be successful.

Producers can achieve Standard A in one of three ways.

Either the lead or supporting actors must come from an underrepresented racial group. Or at least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles must be women, from the racial or ethnic groups, LGBT+ or people with disabilities.

Alternatively, the main storyline or subject should be about women, the racial groups, LGBT+ or disabled people.

Meanwhile Standard B calls for diversity in the filmmaking team. Again, the Academy gives producers three routes to achieve the standard.

One option is for two senior creative leads to come from one of the diverse groups. Alternatively they can give six other key roles to people from those groups. Or finally, 30% of the overall crew can be from the underrepresented communities.

Likewise, Standard C aims to give those underrepresented people access and opportunities in the movie industry.

To be eligible in this case, producers must give both paid apprenticeships or internships and training or skills opportunities to the same communities.

Finally, Standard D focuses on audience development. It aims to increase the communities’ roles in marketing, publicity and distribution.

To achieve this, the studio must have multiple senior in-house executives from those groups in their marketing, publicity and distribution teams.

The phase-in of the rules over the coming years is to allow producers to respond in time. However, they have a little extra time to play with this year. Because of COVID-19, the Oscars will now be on 25 April 2021, with films until 28 February 2021 eligible for awards.