BAFTA Extends Eligibility Period For This Year's Film Awards To Include All Of 2021

BAFTA is expanding the competing field for its upcoming Film Awards ceremony in a big way. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is allowing any title released at any point in 2021 to still be eligible for the upcoming BAFTA Film Awards ceremony this April, which would have normally allowed only 2020 films and any 2021 releases up until April. But with the pandemic pushing many major releases back to this year, the BAFTA eligibility has just opened up wide.

Deadline reports that BAFTA is extending the eligibility period for its Film Awards this year, nixing its usual April 9 cut-off to allow any title released at any point in 2021 to compete at the awards ceremony. The extension also applies to the two categories that were previously extended to April 30, "Film Not In The English Language" and "Documentary."

The awards body had already relaxed its rules, allowing films that weren't released in theaters to be eligible due to the pandemic, but this is an even greater leap for the British film institution.

BAFTA had announced it would allow release date appeals "under the most exceptional of circumstances" but this will no longer be necessary for distributors. The deadline to submit titles had already passed however, so this won't allow for last-minute entries anyways. What this move does, instead, is "reduce the possibility of a crush of releases around March-April," when U.K. theaters can likely open again. The U.K. has been in a full lockdown since December and will likely remain under lockdown for at least another month. Theaters will likely remain closed at least until lockdown has lifted.

BAFTA chairman Krishnendu Majumdar and Marc Samuelson, Chair of the BAFTA Film Committee, recently expanded on the decision with Deadline, with Samuelson explaining, "All of us at BAFTA are aware of the incredibly difficult year everyone across the industry has had. We have made multiple changes to our eligibility criteria at various stages of the pandemic in recognition of these extraordinary circumstances. Given the current situation in the UK with cinemas remaining closed, we felt extending the eligibility period was the right thing to do."

"The new extended eligibility period will give distributors the opportunity to release their qualifying films in cinemas later this year once restrictions have lifted. Our intention is to be as flexible and supportive as we can during these difficult times as well as allow audiences to see as many of these films as possible in a theatrical setting," he added.

Voting opened for the BAFTA Film Awards on January 12, with nominations set to be unveiled on March 9. The BAFTA awards ceremony is scheduled for April 11, 2021.