The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will now require films submitted to the Best Picture category to adhere to inclusion and diversity standards, in an ongoing effort to rectify the current glaring diversity issues present in the Academy. These changes are a part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, but will not affect this year's Oscars.
For a film to be considered for Best Picture for the 94th and 95th Oscars, it must submit an Academy Inclusion Standards form, which will note standards and representation in the film's on-screen representation, storyline, crew, creative leadership, and industry opportunities. While films must submit these forms in 2022 and 2023, meeting the diversity standards will not be required for eligibility until the 2024 Oscars.
"The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality," Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement about the new standards. "We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry."
To win Best Picture in 2024, a film must meet two out of four overarching standards for equality. Under on-screen representation, at least one actor or supporting actor must be from an underrepresented racial group, or at least 30% of minor roles must be from two underrepresented groups, or the main storyline must be centered on an underrepresented group. For the creative leadership, either two creative leadership positions and department heads must be from underrepresented groups or six other technical production assistants must be diverse members.
Film distribution companies must also offer paid apprenticeship and internship roles and skill development for crew, while audience development must include diverse representation throughout marketing, distribution, and publicity.
The new diversity standards will not affect the 2021 Oscars, although the novel coronavirus outbreak has pushed the event back until April 2021. The changes come after several contentious years for diversity at the Academy Awards. While South Korean fan-favorite Parasite made history in 2020 by becoming the first non-English film to take home the golden statue for Best Picture, the Academy faced backlash for their lack of diverse nominees in the lead and supporting actors categories.
However, diverse voters can only work with the films that are nominated. After several years of #OscarsSoWhite highlighting overlooked films and actors, the Academy launched the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, which aims to create a more inclusive film community by 2025. In June, the Academy invited 819 new members to their voting body, surpassing their internal goal to double their female and diverse members by 2020. As such, the new rules combat the lack of diverse nominees directly, making swift and decisive changes to the very structure that has kept diverse films down so long.
While the 2021 nominees have yet to be announced, it is the hope of many that these prolific and systematic rule changes from the Academy will mark a more diverse Oscars than ever before.