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Academy to develop ‘representation’ standards for Oscars eligibility

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science has announced the next phase of its “equity and inclusion initiative,” called Academy Aperture 2025. The organization stated the project is intended to ...
June 12, 2020

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science has announced the next phase of its “equity and inclusion initiative,” called Academy Aperture 2025.

The organization stated the project is intended to “advance inclusion” in the entertainment industry and increase representation within its membership and the “greater film community.”

As part of the Oscars, the Academy promises to “encourage equitable hiring practices and representation” on- and off-screen.

In collaboration with the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Academy will create a task force of individuals appointed by David Rubin. The task force will include governor and A2020 committee chair DeVon Franklin.

The task force will “develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards” for Oscars eligibility by July 31, 2020. Eligibility for films in consideration for the 93rd Academy Awards (2020) will not be subject to those new standards.

Beginning with the 94th Academy Awards (2021), the Best Picture category will be set at 10 nominees, rather than a fluctuating number of nominations from year to year.

The Academy will also introduce a quarterly viewing process through the Academy Screening Room, the streaming site for Academy members, which it states will “broaden each film’s exposure, level the playing field and ensure all eligible films can be seen by voting members.”

As part of its governance and membership, the organization’s board of governors participated in “unconscious bias training” in January. The training will be mandatory for all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and Academy staff on an annual basis.

The board also passed a resolution to amend the Academy bylaws to enact maximum governor term limits. Once the amendment takes effect, governors will be allowed to serve on the board for up to two (2) three-year terms (consecutive or non-consecutive), followed by a two-year hiatus.

After the hiatus, eligibility renews for up to two additional three-year terms, for a lifetime maximum of 12 years.

The previous limit was three consecutive three-year terms, with a one-year hiatus, and no lifetime maximum. New term limits affect newly-elected governors starting with the 2020-2021 board time, as well as sitting governors returning for 2020-2021 in their first or second term.

Those returning governors in their third term during 2020-2021 will be allowed to complete their nine-year service, before an obligatory two-year hiatus, after which eligibility renews for one additional and final three-year term, for a maximum of 12 years.

For governors who have already served multiple terms exceeding 12 years, they will be limited to one additional term. Branch executive committees will also have a term limit of six years and a two-year hiatus, with a maximum of 12 years.

The Academy will additionally host a series of panels called “Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us” for members and the public, with “conversations around race, ethnicity, history, opportunity and the art of filmmaking.”

Programs will include a conversation hosted by Academy governor Whoopi Goldberg on the “lasting impact of racist tropes and harmful stereotypes in Hollywood films.”

The Academy will also present conversations on the “systemic changes that need to occur” in areas such as casting, screenwriting, producing, directing, financing and greenlighting of movies in order to afford opportunities to women and people of color.

Promised changes to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures include creating “spaces that highlight and prioritize the experience” of traditionally underrepresented or marginalized people while “advancing the understanding, celebration, preservation, and accessibility of movies through its business practices, exhibitions, screenings, programs, initiatives, and collections.”

The Academy stated the museum will work in “active partnership” with the Inclusion Advisory Committee to develop “public programs, exhibitions, and collections that confront racism, champion the work of diverse artists, and expose historical omissions.”

An Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity will be established to oversee Aperture 2025 and work with the board of governors, Academy staff and experts to “ensure the implementation of best practices and accountability throughout the organization.”

The office will be led by Academy COO Christine Simmons in partnership with Lorenza Muñoz, MD of member relations and awards.

All Academy, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy Film Archive and Academy Museum staff will have access to newly created Employee Resource Groups (ERG) which the organization stated will “foster diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond.”

“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend—and continue to examine—our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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