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Academy Awards introduces Controversial diversity policy

a row of oscar trophies
a row of oscar trophies Image credit: townandcountrymag.com

The Academy of Motion Picture will go ahead with a controversial move that will not accept any movie being nominated for Best Picture unless 30 percent of the cast and crew filling their diversity criteria, which includes disability.

In 2020 the Academy passed its Aperture 2025 initiative, spearheaded by black filmmaker Ava DuVernay, to ensure the movie industry became more diverse by employing black, gay and disabled people in films, from cast and crew to distribution, financing, internships, marketing and production.

But the policy has been challenged by number of film industry insiders who believe it will be an impossible task and could see the end of the prestigious event.

One representative of the movie business, who wished to remain anonymous, told LA Magazine: 'It's filmmaking by affirmative action. It's totally daft, and it can't be done.'

With fewer TV audiences tuning in to the ceremony, last year showed the lowest on record with this year’s viewing figures yet to be announced, many fear this could see the awards being taken off air for good.

In a statement about the new policy, Academy President David Rubin said: '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.'  

A filmmaker, who also wishes to remain anonymous, said: 'Instead of making it easier, they want to make it harder. And it's hard enough as it is to get movies made. People are just not going to do it.'

Another insider, this time a producer, said: 'Is there any going back? I don't think so. I think the Oscars are dead.' 

From 2024 movies will need to meet at least two on four procedures if they are to stand a chance of being nominated for Best Picture.

One of the procedures states at least 30 percent of all actors in secondary and minor roles must be a woman, have a cognitive or physical disability, have hearing loss, from a racial or ethnic group, or from the LGBTQ+ community.

A second procedure states film studios must offer, 'training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups: Women, Racial or ethnic group, LGBTQ+, People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or have hearing loss.

The policy has also been criticised by actors including Kirstie Alley, who said the new regulations were similar to 'telling Picasso what had to be in his fucking paintings.'

Fellow actor Nick Searcy said: 'The Oscars used to be, just like the movies, something we all shared.

'Woke Hollywood turned it all into a weapon they could use against anyone who disagreed with their politics.'

In order to be considered for the Best Picture award in the 2024 Oscars, films must satisfy Standards A-D

To satisfy Standard A, only one of these three criteria must be met:

At least one actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group must be cast in a significant role

The story must center on women, LGTBQ people, a racial or ethnic group or the disabled

At least 30 percent of the cast must be actors from at least two of those four underrepresented categories

Standard B is focused on hiring and production must meet on of the following criteria:

Two or more department heads must be female, LGTBQ, disabled or part of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group

At least six other crew members must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group

At least 30 percent of the film's crew must hail from the four underrepresented groups continually laid out in these guidelines

Standard C is focused on the production, distribution and financing and calls on films to meet one of two criteria:

The film's distributor or financing company must have at least two interns from an underrepresented group

The film's production, distribution or financing company must offer training or work opportunities to people from those underrepresented groups

Standard D is considered the easiest hurdle to clear as it outlines one criteria:

The film's senior marketing, publicity and distribution executives must have people from an underrepresented group

The first Academy Awards presentation was held on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner function at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people.