The Oscars are taking action to effect change in the filmmaking industry.

On Sept. 8, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced new diversity requirements for films to qualify for consideration in the Best Picture category. The policy, described as "representation and inclusivity standards," comes as part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative—designed to diversify the organization, its awards show, and the culture it promotes.

Oscars: New Best Picture representation and inclusivity standards

The Academy will begin to require a form responding to the new standards in 2022 and 2023, before enforcing them in 2024—the 96th Oscars—and thereafter. The new system involves four standards, two of which must be met by Best Picture hopefuls to qualify in the category.

The inclusivity standards intend to address on-screen content, industry structure, work opportunities, and marketing, grouped into criteria under:

  • A) On-screen Representation, Themes and Narratives
  • B) Creative Leadership and Project Team
  • C) Industry Access and Opportunities
  • D) Audience Development

Under each category, certain requirements must be met — sometimes one out of a possible three (as in standards "A" and "B") or all criteria (in "C" and "D"). Samples of criteria under each standard include specific positions and numbers related to:

  • A) Diverse or underrepresented lead, supporting, or ensemble actors
  • B) Women, racial, or LGBTQ+ groups working in production or department roles
  • C) Apprenticeship/internship opportunities for underrepresented groups
  • D) Marketing/distribution executive positions include underrepresented groups

The Academy takes action after years of criticism

In recent years, the Oscars have been at the centre of criticism (e.g. "Oscars So White") for lack of representation during awards season. Such critiques have targeted the Academy, but also the institution of the film industry itself and its lack of on- and off-screen opportunities for underrepresented groups.

As AMPAS states in its Sept. 8 release, "The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience."

Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson added: "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.

"We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry." The 93rd Oscars will be held in 2021, following the first-ever Best Picture win by a non-English language film, Parasite, in 2020.

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