Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, MBE is the founding director of the British Urban Film Festival having started it in 2005. In that time, the festival has awarded 63 actors, actresses, writers, producers & directors and has delivered 7 annual industry programmes. The festival has screened over 500 films, including its’ own feature film ‘No Shade’ which Emmanuel executive produced in 2018.
Check out episode 14 of the Big Picture Film Club Podcast below
Inclusion, diversity, and equality have never been talk about in the film industry as much as during the last few months. Whether it was the much-needed equality between men and women or more diverse award nominees, many topics like that have been discussed lately. At the end of June, the Academy announced their 819 new members of which 36% were people of colour and 45% women. By doing so, they followed the example of BAFTA (British Academy of Film of Television Arts).
Earlier this year, BAFTA announced that it established a new steering group that will review the lack of diversity in some the categories during this year’s British Academy Film Awards. The group will take a look at the rules, processes, and conditions regarding the nominations and votings. This might be a massive step in the right direction but won’t it be too little too late?
BAFTA and its role in the film and television industry
BAFTA has been supporting the film and television industry right from the first ceremony in 1948. Throughout the years, they haven’t only supported film (British Academy Film Awards) but also television (British Academy Television Awards) and games (British Academy Games Awards). This makes BAFTA an important player in the entertainment industry. BAFTA praises itself as the world-leading independent arts charity which gives attention and support to the UK and international creative talent. Not only with handing out awards, but also by organising learning events, discussion, workshops, masterclasses, and lectures. This year, BAFTA announced that Krishnendu Majumdar will be as its new Chair. Majumdar is an Emmy-winning and BAFTA-nominated television producer and director and has been closely involved with BAFTA for 14 years.
The #BAFTASoWhite has been going on for a few years now. It started in 2017, the year during which La La Land was up for eleven awards. In both leading actors and leading actress categories, all the nominees were white. While the likes of Emily Blunt, Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, and Ryan Gosling were rightfully nominated because of amazing performances, BAFTA could have included Janelle Monáe and Naomi Harris, both for their stunning achievement in Moonlight, and Mahershala Ali and his wonderful acting in Hidden Figures. Moonlight from Barry Jenkins was nominated for Original Screenplay but Jenkins was left out in the Best Director category. The #BAFTASoWhite rose again this year after the announcement of the nominees for the 2020 ceremony and after Joaquin Phoenix and Prince William calling out the lack of diversity.
More inclusion because of the steering group?
With the new steering group, BAFTA wants to change the entertainment industry even more by reviewing policies and making the necessary changes. The steering group consists of BAFTA board and committee members, BAFTA staff, external industry figures, independent advisors, and leading diversity advocates and academics. They will take a closer look at elements such as the nominations and voting process, the role of distributors, the campaigning process, and the makeup of BAFTA’s membership. Issues such as diversity, under-represented groups, access, fairness, and unconscious bias will be talked about as well. The ultimate goal is to know which possible changes they can do to make from the entertainment industry a more diverse and inclusive one. While BAFTA mentioned that they will take into account the BAFTA Television, Television Craft, and Games Awards, they will mostly focus on the film awards.
The ‘chicken or the egg dilemma’ in film
When it comes to diversity and on-screen representation, there’s always the ‘chicken or the egg dilemma’. Is there simply a lack of black actors/directors getting opportunities or is it because black creatives don’t start a career in film because they think they won’t stand a chance? As mentioned before, BAFTA is always organising scholarships, lectures, and mentoring schemes. While these initiatives should be applauded, it shouldn’t be too hard to include more people of colour, people with disabilities, and women during the award ceremonies and the events especially when you look at international talent.
What could be done next?
While this new steering group is a massive step in the right direction, there’s still much more BAFTA and other organisers can do. Appointing under-represented people an important role within the organisations, and if the new steering group is a success, other big players in the entertainment industry should start similar groups as well.
The 72nd British Academy Film Awards, more commonly known as the BAFTAs, took place 10 February 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. We break down the biggest talking points from the awards ceremony.
The Favourite wins big
Already a favourite among critics, The Favourite scooped up seven awards on the evening, more than any other, including Outstanding British Film, Best Actress (Olivia Colman) & Best Supporting Actress (Rachel Weisz). Will The Favourite win big at The Oscars later this month? We’ll have to wait to find out.
Letitia wins EE Rising Star Award
The EE Rising Star Award is special as it is the only fan-voted award in the BAFTAs. This year’s winner was Letitia Wright, she had a stellar year in 2018 appearing in Black Panther, Ready Player One & Avengers: Infinity War. Letitia follows 2018 winner Daniel Kaluuya, who also starred in Black Panther
Netflix wins big with Roma
Roma picked up three awards for Best Film, Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón) & Best Foreign Language Film. Roma has been the first Netflix original film to garner such praise and recognition from the major industry awards – it is also nominated for 10 Oscar Awards. Netflix was infamously banned from The Cannes Film Festival in 2018.
First Man leaves empty handed
Despite being nominated in seven categories, First Man failed to pick up any awards. First Look tells the story of Neil Armstrong and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Last week news broke that the Andy Serkis directed Mowgli was acquired by Netflix and won’t see a large scale theatrical release and will be on the streaming platform in 2019 (not later this year as originally intended). This decision marks two important changes in the film industry: major film companies becoming more risk-averse with theatrical releases, and the ability for streaming services to now take on would-be “blockbuster” film releases.
Earlier this year Sci-Fi horror Annihilation suffered a similar fate, going directly to Netflix for its international release. And with 11 million viewers in its opening 3 days the Netflix original Bright, starring Will Smith, was a glimpse into what a big budget feature film can do while still being premiered on a streaming service. So, how does the rise in straight to Video-On-Demand platforms change how we should view the film charts? When can a VOD movie be considered a commercial success? And what does this mean for the film industry?
Where do they stand?
The basic cinema experience hasn’t changed in the last 100 years. Major film companies like Warner Bros & Paramount Pictures have primarily worked on the basis of a theatrical release of a film. This has meant we’ve had a fairly consistent measure of what the current popular films are as a measure of revenue generated at a cinema’s Box Office on any given week. For the UK cinema Box Office, this information has been collated by analytics company ComScore since 1991. Cinema admissions in the UK have remained fairly stagnant over the last 10 years, with most annual admissions in this timeframe being between 165 million – 170 million. Therefore the growth in domestic ticket revenue has been driven by higher ticket prices and premium cinematic formats such as IMAX & 3D cinema.
Although both industries have their differences, comparisons can be drawn from the music industry. A key watershed moment in the U.K music industry landscape was in 2004 when digital downloads were included in the charts, which saw Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” land the number 1 spot from digital downloads alone in 2006. 10 years after the introduction of digital downloads, the UK’s Official Charts Company incorporated streaming data into the charts for the first time in 2014. While the music industry has arguably had a tougher time monetizing its music and avoiding piracy, it has in recent years been more receptive in changing its measures of success to better reflect how people are consuming music. Although the Box Office remains the gold standard for measuring commercial success of a film, the growth of Netflix, Amazon Prime and others will surely begin to question how we measure success within the film industry.
A measure of success
As part of the eligibility criteria for feature-length films, both BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Awards) & Oscars require films to have a commercial theatrical release, with films that have had their first exhibition on streaming platforms ineligible for consideration. Smaller, more niche film awards like the Streamys & The Webbys have emerged in an attempt to fill this void. This resistance of the ‘old guard’ to acknowledge new media is nothing new in arts and entertainment. The recent banning of Netflix at the Cannes Film Festival is further proof of this. Despite opposition, The Venice Film Festival is bucking the trend and will screen 6 Netflix films this year. Whilst it’s a risky move for the festival, ultimately it is one that would see it on the right side of history in years to come.
In a world shifting towards Netflix & Amazon, great talents within the filmmaking industry are still not properly being acknowledged for their work on those platforms. A large part of this issue is what our measure of a successful film is in this day and age, an intermediate solution might a secondary industry-recognised film chart based on streaming. Or maybe we should look into adopting a version of the music industry model?
In the immediate future expect the Box Office chart based on cinematic ticket sales to remain. However, in an industry where money talks this discussion will continue, particularly as the revenue and influence of subscription streaming platforms continue to grow. If the music industry has successfully amalgamated digital, streaming and physical retail sales into a chart to accurately reflect the most commercially successful films of the moment, surely the movie industry can too?
As the 2018 “awards season” approaches, we get the opportunity not only to celebrate the biggest films of 2017 but to start looking ahead at what’s to come for 2018. We decided to put together a selection of five of five must-see films for the coming year. Our list comes from a selection of filmmakers who have screened films with Big picture Film Club.
1. “The Sisters Brothers”
Directed by Jacques Audiard; starring Jake Gyllenhaal & Joaquin Phoenix [Recommended byBrady Hood]
Brady: Upon first reading the novel of the same name I instantly fell in love with the writer Patrick De Witt and immediately bought all of his novels (as well as enquired about the rights!). Add this delightfully wicked and charming story to a director who I consider one of the greatest around and surely we’re on to a winner!! But most appealing is to observe what Audiard will do with the comedic tone of this story when all his other films have very little to laugh about. A very appealing prospect to behold and what I hope will be a fantastic move for two very talented storytellers.
2. “Ready Player One”
Directed by Stephen Spielberg; starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke [Recommended by Nick Barrett]
Nick: I guess the only film I’m really looking forward to is Spielberg’s Ready Player One as I’m a big fan of the book and all round eighties nostalgia geek. From the trailer it looks like they’ve nailed the look of the ‘stacks’ and the virtual Oasis environment – can’t wait!
3. “A Wrinkle in Time”
Directed by Ava DuVernay; starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine & Gugu Mbatha-Raw [Recommended byMolly Boughen]
Molly: I am eagerly awaiting the release of this film as I am a huge fan of Ava DuVernay, a brilliant director who leads the film with a strong female cast, writers and her as a director.
Molly: Breakthrough is an independent documentary funded through Kickstarter by the production company Studio Everyday. It is a wonderful documentary by Harry Hitchens following other artistic people and why people make art.
5. “The New Mutants”
Directed by Josh Boone; starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Maisie Williams [Recommended byDan Horrigan]
Dan: I’m really looking forward to New Mutants and it’s array of characters. That alongside a rumoured horror vibe sends the anticipation levels through the roof. This will be awesome.
Big Picture Film Club would like to thank Brady Hood, Nick J Barrett, Molly Boughen & Dan Horrigan for their contributions.
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