Oscars to draw up diversity rules for nominees

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood’s motion picture academy will introduce new eligibility rules to boost diversity among Oscars nominees under a raft of new measures announced Friday.

The move comes after years of criticism over a lack of diversity among the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ members, and among the Oscar nominees and winners they select.

“To ensure more diverse representation,” a new task force will be set up “to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility”, the organisation said in a statement.

The measures will not affect films in contention this year.

The Academy did not give any details about the new rules, but said the changes are intended to “encourage equitable hiring practices and representation on and off-screen”.

It will also host a series of panel discussions on diversity, including a talk hosted by Academy governor Whoopi Goldberg on “the lasting impact of racist tropes and harmful stereotypes in Hollywood films”.

The changes were announced following mass anti-racism protests that have swept the country since the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Since 2015 and the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, the Academy has made concerted efforts to broaden its membership.

The annual intake of new members reached 50% female for the first time in 2019, while non-white membership has doubled in five years.

But less than one-third admitted were people of colour.

“To truly meet this moment, we must recognise how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable,” said Academy President David Rubin.

Among other changes agreed at this week’s governor meeting, the best picture category will have a mandatory 10 nominees from next year.

Currently, the category has a fluctuating number between five and 10 contenders each year.

No decision was taken on the timing of the Oscars ceremony, following reports that its Feb 28 date is expected to be postponed due to the pandemic.