22 January, 2010

My annual BAFTA annoyance 2010

Well there are fewer nominations to cite this year in my rant against the BAFTA's for cheating their own eligibility requirements in order to nominate films that haven't actually been released and usually are merely imminent around the time of the award ceremonies themselves. This is an utterly craven pandering to the distributors. I have no quibble with the films released in the UK in the calendar year being honoured, in this case 2009. However, a significant portion of those nominated have been released this year, and, as usual at least one even fails BAFTA's own requirements.

Let's remind ourselves of this year's requirements:


Films must be released theatrically in the UK, within the Academy awards year:
1 January to 31 December 2009. Films that open between 1 January and 19 February 2010 inclusive may be 'qualified' by Distributors by being screened to Academy Film Voting Members by Thursday 17 December 2009.

To be eligible, a feature film must:

* be feature-length, i.e. with a running time exceeding 60 minutes;
* receive its first public exhibition or distribution in the UK as a theatrical release;
* be exhibited publicly to a paying audience within a commercial cinema in the UK for no fewer than seven consecutive days.

Films from all countries are eligible in all categories, with the exception of Outstanding British Film, Outstanding Debut, Short Film and Short Animation which are for British films only.

This year's Best Actress category includes Saoirse Ronan for The Lovely Bones (19 February 2010). O.K., this is released on the last day of Eligibility period, but it fails the "publicly to a paying audience... for no fewer than seven consecutive days." as the award ceremony is on the 21st.

Previous years have seen these films so dishonourably nominated:
2008 Latest Open Date 8th Feb, Awards 10th Feb.
There Will be Blood (15th Feb)

2009 Latest Open Date 6th Feb, Awards 8th Feb.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (6th Feb 2009)
Doubt (6th Feb 2009)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (13th Feb 2009 released after the eligibility and the awards)

This may seem horribly pedantic, but my main point is that awards should be nominated and awarded from a level playing field, say a given 12 month period, not skewed to only films which have theatrical, or now possibly DVD releases that create synergy with the date of the Awards ceremony. I don't begrudge the films or their makers nominations, but this should reflect merit, not the machinations of film distributors. This also leaves the BAFTAs open to the accusation that they are an irrelevant stop-gap between the Golden Globes and the Oscars, as they bend their eligibility to include films that have earlier release dates in North America and are more suitably eligible for those awards.

I will attempt yet again to get this rant some traction, watch this space...

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