Bafta head denies Selma racist snub

Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor

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The lack of a Bafta nomination for Martin Luther King Jr biopic Selma was not a “racist snub”, the head of the academy has said.

Amanda Berry said she was “upset” critics had claimed the film, which stars British talent David Oyelowo, was the victim of a snub by the organisation, even though its American equivalent the Oscars nominated it for two awards.

In an interview with the Observer she insisted it was because its release was too late to make the shortlist for the awards, which will be handed out at a ceremony next weekend.

Oyelowo, 38, plays Martin Luther King Jr in the film which charts the American civil rights leader’s three month campaign in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 to persuade President Lyndon B Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act, protecting African-Americans’ right to vote. This culminated in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, and this year marks its 50th anniversary.

Oyelowo said “it would have been nice” if the film was nominated, while on the red carpet at the Curzon Mayfair in London for Selma’s premier last week.

But Ms Berry, Bafta’s chief executive, said: “I get quite upset when people say it was a racist snub. The film wasn’t delivered until the end of November and there were only three screenings before the voting started. Last year we flew David in to present and we absolutely recognised his talent.”

Selma has been well received by critics but as well as being overlooked in this year’s Bafta nominations it only earned two Oscar nods, for Best Picture and Best Original Song.

Asked how he felt about the lack of recognition, Oyelowo said: “You’re going to have to ask Bafta about that. I don’t know, it would have been nice.

“But the fact of the matter is the film is really resonating with audiences. It’s great to be back here in the UK premiering the film.

“I did my bit.”

Ms Berry also told the paper the film industry should be as diverse as possible amid an ongoing debate about opportunities for actors from ethnic and working class backgrounds.

“It is essential the industry is open to all. The industry we work in has to reflect the society we live in. That is really important,” she said.

“There is a perception that if you are from an ethnic background you have no chance. Our new Breakthrough Brits talent event allows anyone to nominate a star of the future and then we give them a year of mentoring.”

Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor

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