18 out of 25 of the categories in BAFTA's 2023 awards had nominations who were People of Colour. At least half of these nominations were of ESEA heritage including directors Daniel Kwan of Everything, Everywhere All at Once and Park Chan-wook and Ko Dae-seok of Decision to Leave, The Living's screenplay writer Kazuo Ishiguro, electronica band Son Lux and make up artist Judy Chin to name a few. Given the staggering amount of talent in this year's BAFTAs there was more than enough 'merit' to be given, a common argument amongst those who defended this year's BAFTA decisions.
Yet ESEA actors Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan from Everything, Everywhere All at Once in it's hilarious, trippy and moving glory did not pick up an award and neither did the movie itself for Best Film. Harrowing and beautiful movie, Sally El Hosaini's The Swimmers, did not get the well deserved award for Outstanding British Film. Not a single screen professional of colour was amongst the white smiling faces clutching their BAFTA mask in the post ceremony group photo except for the co host Alison Hammond. Don't believe us? Check out the list of nominations here which acknowledged Angela Bassett's powerful and heart wrenching performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Hong Chau's moving and wonderful scenes in The Whale, but failed to reward them for their brilliant work. The incredibly powerful performances from Viola Davis in The Woman King and Danielle Deadwyler in Till were unreasonably sidelined for the award of Leading Actress. And they're not the only excellent nominations BAFTA turned their noses up at. The fun and upbeat take on periods that was Domee Shi's Turning Red. Bus Girl starring a mostly BESEA cast including Jessica Henwick, Chipo Chung, Christopher Chung and Lourdes Faberes. Sheila Atim MBE and Naomi Ackie who despite an impressive track record did not receive the Rising Star Award that was well overdue to them. The massive question is why weren't any of these walking away with an award? The BAFTAs chose to stick to their formula of period dramas as their favourites while cleverly listing superb productions and talent, merely as box ticking window dressing. Despite a large majority of the nominees being household names and raking in box office takings (and previous awards) it seems the BAFTAs had pretty much chosen who was going to win at their ceremony from the very start.
Considering the British Film and screen industry's problematic relationship with ESEA representation, the BAFTA's bypassed the chance to impact Diversity and Inclusion positively in Film and TV as it has done in the previous years. Just when things were starting to look progressive, it seems to have retreated back to an old formula that this time, is one that we were glad to be rid of in the first place.
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