Sun. Sep 20th, 2020

BAFTA moves 2021 film awards to April 11; eases release eligibility

Hot off the heels of the Oscars’ announcement in which a longer eligibility period and a new date for the 93rd Academy Awards was made, the BAFTAs have also announced a new date for their film awards: April 11, 2021, two weeks before the Oscars.

“This change from the previously announced date of February 14 acknowledges the impact of the global pandemic and accommodates an extended eligibility period. Further details on the ceremony will be announced later in the year,” said BAFTA in a statement on Monday.

More information on next year’s BAFTAs – as well as a review of the 2022 awards – will be coming as soon as tomorrow, Tuesday June 16.

“Any changes will be published once the review has been completed, alongside other findings and recommendations,” said BAFTA.

[UPDATE] A day after the announcement of the date change for the 2021 BAFTA film awards, the org today laid out new and amended eligibility requirements for films released in 2020. Now, titles that had been theatrically released when UK cinemas were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and had their release cut short, will be eligible regardless of the number of qualifying screenings they had. Also, films that had a confirmed theatrical release date that never materialized due to the coronavirus closure of theaters, as determined by the Film Distributors’ Association, will be eligible if their release changes to an approved, commercial VOD platform.

Films that were intended for theatrical release during the cinema lockdown, but without a confirmed and published release date, will be eligible if they release on an approved commercial VOD platform during lockdown. After lockdown, on a date determined by BAFTA and once cinemas reopen, these titles will only be eligible if they are given a theatrical release.

Titles with a qualifying release on an approved commercial VOD platform must be available for a minimum of 30 days to UK audiences. Those titles must also be made available to BAFTA voting members on the ‘BAFTA View’ viewing portal 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 releases, whether theatrical or on VOD, must be released within the BAFTA film awards 2020-21 eligibility period, January 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021.

“We have pushed back by two months to give all films the best possible chance to be released and considered properly,” said Marc Samuelson, chair of the BAFTA film committee. “As cinemas gradually re-open we know that the major releases will dominate screens.”

Samuelson continued, saying “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. The date of the 2021 Awards has to be set now to allow distributors to make plans, but the current Awards Review is considering all aspects of the Awards, including the date from 2022, and our relationship to other awards ceremonies.”

No word yet on what other likely changes the 2021 BAFTAs will see but we can expect to hear them this fall, after the findings of an awards review that was set up following the lack of diversity in the 2020 awards nominations. This new review is being led personally by new British Academy chair Krish Majumdar, the first person of color to hold the post in the organization’s history.

UK theaters, which closed the week of March 16, are expected to reopen on July 4, with Cineworld confirming today that its UK screens will reopen on July 10.

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