Academy Introduces Representation and Inclusion Standards for Best Picture Oscar

Films will soon have to up their inclusion game if they want to be considered for the Best Picture Oscar. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has announced and outlined new inclusion and representation rules for Best Picture eligibility. “The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience,” according to a press release.

Part of the organization’s Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, the new standards were designed by a task force led by governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos. They modeled the guidelines on the BFI’s Diversity Standards for funding and the BAFTA Awards’ eligibility rules.

In order to be a Best Picture contender, films must fulfill inclusion and diversity requirements in two of these four categories: On-Screen Representation, Themes and Narratives; Creative Leadership and Project Team; Industry Access and Opportunities; and Audience Development.

Films must submit confidential Academy Inclusion Standards forms for the 2022 and 2023 Oscars. “Meeting inclusion thresholds will not be required for eligibility in the Best Picture category until the 96th Oscars (2024),” the release specifies.

“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,” AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson and AMPAS President David Rubin stated. “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

While it’s admirable that the Academy will be keeping films accountable, and mandating inclusion among its Best Picture nominees, the organization will, disappointingly, not be requiring the same of its other awards categories — at least not for the time being. “All categories other than Best Picture will be held to their current eligibility requirements,” the press release reads.

The inclusion/representation guidelines won’t apply to all Best Picture contenders: “Films in the specialty feature categories (Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, International Feature Film) submitted for Best Picture/General Entry consideration will be addressed separately.”

Holding Best Picture contenders to a certain standard of inclusivity and representation is a great start, but it should be just that: a start. The Academy has a long history of shutting out women, people of color, and other underrepresented communities from its other categories — specialty feature races included. This year, Cynthia Erivo was the lone woman of color to receive an acting nomination and, lest we forget, only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director: Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow, and Greta Gerwig.

Aperture 2025 also involves permanently setting the number of Best Picture nominees at 10, limiting governor terms to 12 years, and hosting “Academy Dialogues: It Starts with Us,” a conversation series exploring gender, race, inclusion, history, and filmmaking. The latter launched last month.

Find the details of AMPAS’ Best Picture representation and inclusion standards below, courtesy of the Academy.


For the 96th Oscars (2024), a film must meet TWO out of FOUR of the following standards to be deemed eligible:

STANDARD A: ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES


To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

A1. Lead or significant supporting actors

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

• Asian


• Hispanic/Latinx


• Black/African American


• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native


• Middle Eastern/North African


• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander


• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

A2. General ensemble cast

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:

• Women


• Racial or ethnic group


• LGBTQ


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

• Women


• Racial or ethnic group


• LGBTQ


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM


To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:

B1. Creative leadership and department heads 

At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women


• Racial or ethnic group


• LGBTQ


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group:

• Asian


• Hispanic/Latinx


• Black/African American


• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native


• Middle Eastern/North African


• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander


• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

B2. Other key roles

At least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. These positions include but are not limited to First AD, Gaffer, Script Supervisor, etc.

B3. Overall crew composition

At least 30% of the film’s crew is from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women


• Racial or ethnic group


• LGBTQ


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD C: INDUSTRY ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES


To achieve Standard C, the film must meet BOTH criteria below:

C1. Paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities

The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups and satisfy the criteria below:

• Women


• Racial or ethnic group


• LGBTQ


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

The major studios/distributors are required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups (must also include racial or ethnic groups) in most of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

The mini-major or independent studios/distributors must have a minimum of two apprentices/interns from the above underrepresented groups (at least one from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group) in at least one of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

C2. Training opportunities and skills development (crew) 

The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women


• Racial or ethnic group


• LGBTQ


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD D: AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT


To achieve Standard D, the film must meet the criterion below:

D1. Representation in marketing, publicity, and distribution

The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from among the following underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.

• Women


• Racial or ethnic group:

  • Asian
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • Black/African American
  • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
  • Middle Eastern/North African
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

• LGBTQ


• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

September 14, 2020
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