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Bong Joon-ho, 2020 Oscars
Bong Joon-ho, 2020 Oscarsvia Instagram/@bong.joon_ho

The Academy announces new measures to boost representation at the Oscars

The organisation recently revealed the ‘next phase’ of its equity and inclusion initiative, which includes expanding the Best Picture category

In a continuing effort to address historically poor diversity and representation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced what it calls: “the next phase of our equity and inclusion initiative.” This will reportedly include changes to address representation issues among its own membership, as well as changes to the Oscars eligibility rules.

This isn’t the first time the Academy has addressed its ongoing issues with gender and race bias. Last year, it made a necessary effort to increase the diversity of its members, inviting – among others – Lady Gaga and Black Panther’s Letitia Wright.

Nevertheless, the Best Director and Best Picture categories remained overwhelmingly male, pale, and stale at the 2020 ceremony (though Bong Joon-ho ultimately made history, taking home both awards). Filmmakers such as Greta Gerwig have agreed that the number of women directors is “still not where it needs to be”.

According to an announcement on the Academy’s website, the new changes will include expanding the Best Picture category to a set 10 nominees – rather than a fluctuating number year on year – and creating a “task force of industry leaders” to develop new standards for eligibility, with the aim of ensuring a more diverse array of films can compete.

The Academy is also looking to make changes among its own members, such as conducting bias training, following the establishment of previous targets to create a more diverse membership.

Though these previous targets have been met, many board members – including the newly-appointed Ava DuVernay – say that: “to truly meet this moment, we must recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable.”

DuVernay, among other figures from the film industry, has also recently demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, the 26 year old woman killed in her own home by police officers in March. Taylor’s death, as well as that of George Floyd, has sparked worldwide protests in recent weeks, which have in turn led organisations across the board to reconsider their commitment to anti-racism efforts.