In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which shuttered UK cinemas, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has temporarily altered its film eligibility rules.
The EE British Academy Film Awards also has a new date of April 11, 2021, pushed ahead by two months to allow films the chance for a proper release and consideration. The 2022 Film Awards date of February 13 is currently pending.
As part of the temporary rules, 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.
Additionally, titles with a confirmed theatrical release date (as determined by the Film Distributors Association) that had fallen during the cinema lockdown will be eligible should the release change to an approved commercial VOD platform. These titles can be released at any time during the 2020–21 eligibility period.
Titles that were intended for a theatrical release during the lockdown, but without a confirmed and published date, will also be eligible should the films release on an approved commercial VOD platform during lockdown.
After lockdown, on a date confirmed by BAFTA and once theatres re-open, those titles will only be eligible if they are given a theatrical release.
All remaining titles, barring the previously outlined exceptions, must be released theatrically within the eligibility period in order to qualify.
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).
Titles qualifying via release on an approved commercial VOD platform must be available for a minimum of 30 days to UK audiences.
BAFTA voting members must have access to the titles on the Academy’s online viewing site ‘BAFTA View’ 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, the date for which will be announced in the fall along with the Film 2020-21 eligibility period.
The changes will be reviewed at the end of July in light of the evolving circumstances surrounding film production, distribution and exhibition.
In addition, BAFTA is reviewing its membership, nominations and voting processes and will continue to roll out BFI Diversity Standards as a requirement for eligibility across the Games and Television Awards, as well as tightening the requirements, and looking to introduce them across other categories within the Film Awards.
“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,” Marc Samuelson, chair of the film committee, said in a statement.