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New Oscar awards rules for more diverse casts, film crews draw criticism and praise

The rules are likely to force studios to think about diversity in every component of their business, including expanding access to women, the disabled and LGBTQ+ individuals.

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Bloomberg: A new rule that requires films competing for the best-picture Oscar starting in 2024 to have more diverse casts and crews is revealing how divided Hollywood is on the issue of inclusion.

The mandate, made in a surprise Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announcement late Tuesday, drew swift criticism, and praise. Actress Kirstie Alley called it “dictatorial” in a tweet, while actor James Woods said the rule was “madness.” Meanwhile, film critics lauded the move, with one writing in Variety that it’s “the single bravest act I’ve witnessed from an awards body that I’ve loved my entire life.”

Though most in Hollywood agree that having movies that tell a wide range of stories, with a diverse set of characters, is a worthy goal, the industry has long struggled with making that a reality. Some, like Alley, oppose quotas, while others have argued they’re the only way to effect change. The debate reflects a broader reckoning with the issue of inclusion throughout the U.S., which has gained more attention after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in police custody.

“We are in a hyper-political times. I’m sure that some people will be in an uproar,” said Patrick Gomez, editor in chief of the A.V. Club, a pop-culture website. “I do have faith that this was done in an effort to create lasting change.”

In reality, the new rules wouldn’t disqualify many past winners. Best-picture nominees starting in 2024 will have to qualify in at least two of four diversity categories: on-screen representation; creative leadership and project team; industry access; and audience development.

Technically, a film can qualify for the best-picture award even if all of its actors are White men, so long as the other components of the film are diverse. Winners from recent years, including “Parasite,” “Green Book” and “Moonlight,” would probably still be winners under the new system. All of them included lead actors who weren’t White.

However, the new rule acts as a line in the sand, according to Gomez. Studios will be forced to think about diversity in every component of their business, including expanding access to women, the disabled and LGBTQ+ individuals, if they want to compete for Hollywood’s highest honor.

That may create yet another divide, though. It will probably be easier for large studios to cope with the requirements, while independent studios that fund their films on a shoestring and struggle to gain audiences may be further disadvantaged, according to Clayton Davis, film-awards editor at Variety. However, more people may be offered the opportunity to enter the industry’s elite organizations.

“It’s time for Hollywood to step outside of itself and look beyond the Sherman Oaks, Brentwood and Beverly Hills ZIP codes for their next proteges,” Davis said.- Bloomberg

Also read: Disney slammed for shooting ‘Mulan’ in Xinjiang & thanking Chinese govt departments


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