1536058239©BIFA 2017 | Holly Clark Photography

BIFA and Creative Skillset announce unconscious bias training scheme

Voters for this year’s British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) will be trained in recognising where their unconscious bias is affecting their decision-making in a new initiative from BIFA with Creative Skillset.

The bespoke training for unconscious bias reinforces BIFA’s commitment to making its voting process as fair, inclusive and diligent as possible.

Seetha Kumar, CEO Creative Skillset, said: “We are proud to have developed this pioneering initiative with BIFA. We believe understanding unconscious bias and training in understanding unconscious bias will become the norm in every organisation that wants to act responsibly. Many people feel they don’t have the knowledge or the tools to do anything about it. BIFA are to be praised for taking this step to give all films and screen professionals in contention for honours a fairer chance of success.”

BIFA aims to provide the training to more than 400 industry professionals by the end of the year. The programme, which is supported with National Lottery funds from the British Film Institute as part of the Future Film Skills Programme, will guide voters in assessing whether subliminal assumptions about genre, commerciality, gender and ethnicity have an impact on their choices during the nomination and voting process. Sources of bias that will be examined include:

  • whether comedic writing may be considered less favourably than drama
  • whether a commercial box office success is viewed more negatively than a critically appraised production
  • if groups unconsciously give greater weight to the voice of senior industry figures
  • whether assumptions are made about films that are either directed by women or telling stories focusing on women
  • if stories voters cannot relate to directly are subconsciously given less weight 

Amy Gustin and Deena Wallace, co-directors of BIFA, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Creative Skillset on creating this ground-breaking training programme. Our aim is to ensure the playing field remains level for all filmmakers regardless of their budgets, subject matter, industry profile, ethnicity or gender – an ethos we hope will benefit not just BIFA’s process and voters but also the wider industry.”

BIFA 2018 nominations will be announced on Wednesday, 31 October. The winners will be unveiled at the ceremony on Sunday 2 December at Old Billingsgate, London which will mark the 21st anniversary of the awards.

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