Roger Michell
Roger Michell: Director's Diary 4

17th December 2004

The Awards season is upon us. Every day the FedEx van tips up with a few more screeners (DVDs "for your consideration" sent out to members of the Academy by the studios). I am already awash with the huge box of tapes that arrived earlier in the autumn from the European Film Academy. And although I'm not a member, the whole BAFTA circus is also in town, with vast ads in the trades for various films, BAFTA screenings clogging up the viewing theatres of Soho for months in advance, and invitations arriving by post, by email, and by personal appeal practically every day for special screening to be attended by this or that celeb.


There's more than a whiff of corruption surrounding all this activity: nominations and awards mean big bucks, especially in the USA, and it's often been noted that studios who splash out millions on their Academy campaigns can seriously distort the results.

With BAFTA, the situation is more complicated. For years, the ceremony took place AFTER the Oscars and felt, accordingly, a little like an also-ran. A few years ago it was moved to precede the Oscars by a few weeks, giving it that Golden Globe frisson of in some way predicting the way the Oscars would go. BAFTAs, like Oscars, are awarded by membership vote (although in very different ways) and one of the disturbing features of the increasing Americanisation of the BAFTAs is this: the huge US membership of BAFTA (where, as I understand it, conditions of membership are much more relaxed than they are in the UK) means that, as at last year's ceremony, awards were being picked up by US films that have not even opened here.

I'm all for BAFTA night being popular, glitzy and good for our industry as a whole, but dread the idea that it becomes just another off-shore rehearsal for Oscar night itself.

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