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McQueen criticises Bafta for lack of diversity

There are no non-white actors in the four main acting categories while no female filmmakers are up for best director.

FILE: British director Steve McQueen poses for photographers on the red carpet as he arrives for the BFI London Film Festival Awards in central London on 15 October 2016. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Oscar-winning British director Steve McQueen has criticised Britain's top film awards following controversy over the lack of diversity in this year's nominations.

McQueen, the first black director to win an Academy Award - for 12 Years A Slave in 2014 - said the Baftas risked being "of no interest to anyone" if they fail to become more inclusive.

The criticism came after the shortlist of nominees for top awards released by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts lacked women and people from minority backgrounds.

There are no non-white actors in the four main acting categories while no female filmmakers are up for best director.

The backlash at the shortlist prompted Bafta to announce it will conduct a "careful and detailed review" of its voting system, while insisting gender balance was an "industry-wide problem".

But McQueen, who has seen two of his films previously win Baftas, called that stance "nonsense".

"When these films are being made to critical acclaim, they're not even being recognised," he told The Guardian newspaper on Monday.

"After a while you get a bit fed up with it.

"Because if the Baftas are not supporting British talent... then I don't understand what you are there for."

The Hollywood director, who received a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth II's annual new year's honours list, said without reform the Baftas would eventually have "no credibility at all".

"They have to change," he added, noting British talent that could have been nominated this year included Marianne Jean-Baptiste for In Fabric, Cynthia Erivo for Harriet and Daniel Kaluuya for Queen & Slim.

A 2018 report conducted by business psychology firm Pearn Kandola found 94% of all Bafta film award nominees have been white.

The Oscars has faced similar criticisms in recent years, with all-white lists of acting nominees in both 2015 and 2016.

This year's Baftas are to be held on 2 February in London.

Dark comic book drama Joker, starring Golden Globes winner Joaquin Phoenix, leads the pack with 11 nominations, including for best film.

Meanwhile Martin Scorsese's gangster epic The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood, both received 10 nominations each.

In Los Angeles meanwhile, the Netflix blaxploitation biopic Dolemite Is My Name starring Eddie Murphy won best comedy at the Critics' Choice Awards Sunday night.

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