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The British Academy’s long-standing annual tradition of bestowing honorary lifetime achievement gongs at the BAFTA Film Awards ceremony will not take place this year.
Following a review into the special awards process that was initiated in 2021 in the wake of the Noel Clarke scandal, BAFTA has said that non-competitive awards — including the BAFTA Fellowship (an honor that dates back to 1971, when Alfred Hitchcock was the first recipient) and Outstanding Contribution to Cinema — will not be a part of the 2022 film or games awards ceremonies. It does, however, plan to present them at its TV awards ceremony in May.
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BAFTA came under heavy fire last year after giving Clarke an outstanding contribution award at its TV awards in April despite having been made aware of sexual harassment claims against the actor, which were brought to light in a major exposé in The Guardian several weeks later. At the time, BAFTA asserted the allegations it received weren’t first-hand and contained few details, meaning it didn’t have “sufficient grounds” to take action, but noted that it would have suspended the award immediately had the victims gone on record (as they did to the media). But the situation still proved a major headache for the academy, which launched a review into the processes governing such awards in May and put these honors on hold.
On Monday, BAFTA said that the “lengthy, thoughtful and thorough review,” one which included “extensive industry consultations,” had concluded that these awards were still a “vital way to celebrate excellence and inspire future generations of talent across film, games and television.” However, it said that it needed to implement the review’s recommendations, which it wouldn’t be able to put into place until the TV awards.
Among the recommendations is the introduction of a new committee to expand the “vetting and selection processes,” a committee that will effectively serve as another set of eyes and sit above the various sector committees to help oversee a rolling longlist of potential special awards candidates, checking that guidelines have been followed. The exact role of this committee — which will be made up of representations from each relevant committee — is yet to be fully worked out, with further details to come. On top of the new committee, BAFTA is also hoping to encourage its members to be more active in suggesting candidates for consideration and has plans to refresh what the awards it gifts “celebrate and represent.”
In the wake of last year’s scandal over Clarke, BAFTA was keen to point out that, as a film charity with limited finances, it isn’t positioned to conduct criminal investigations when it receives allegations about its members, and there’s no sense whatsoever that the new committee will do anything such as run police checks over potential awards recipients. But having spent several weeks being dragged through the mud across various parts of the British media, it’s clear that the organization wants to ensure a similar situation doesn’t arise again.