Major study on racial inequalities in the UK film industry


University College London

UCL launches major £ 1million research project on links between racism, racial inequalities, diversity and politics in the UK film industry, in close collaboration with the British Film Institute (BFI) , the leading UK organization for film and moving images.

The Color of Diversity: A Longitudinal Analysis of BFI Diversity Standards Data and Racial Inequality in the UK Film Industry is a three-year research study that will explore the true nature of the presence, representation and experiences of black and minority ethnic identities. UK. movie industry.

The analysis of the BFI’s diversity standards, a major policy initiative launched in 2016 to address prevailing sectoral inequalities and stimulate diversity and inclusion mainly linked to the protected characteristics cited in the Equality Act of 2010, will be at the heart of research. This project, which identifies the film industry as a site of multi-faceted racial inequalities, goes beyond issues of under-representation to deeply explore the experiences of people of color involved at every stage of the industry, from creators to funders, actors to technicians and from the idea stage to the finished product, including the experience of audiences of black and ethnic minority films.

The longitudinal study will be led by Dr Clive Nwonka (principal investigator), new lecturer in film culture and society at the Graduate Institute of UCL, and Professor Sarita Malik (co-investigator) professor of media, culture and communications in the Department of Social and Political Sciences, Brunel University London. Nwonka and Malik are both recognized as two of the UK’s leading academic researchers in the study of British and Asian race, racism, diversity and black identity in film and television. In addition, the project will recruit a post-doctoral research assistant who will be based at UCL.

Commenting on the study, Dr Nwonka (entering UCL Institute of Advanced Studies) said: “Despite nearly three decades of political initiatives, racial inequalities in the film industry in terms of workforce demographics artwork and on-screen representations of black identities and ethnic minorities remain a problem. significant social problem. What was missing is a thorough analysis, over time, of how the diversity policy that has attempted to address racial inequalities is constructed and implemented, as well as its success, failure and impact. “

The study, totaling nearly £ 1million and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), builds on Nwonka’s previous research on racial inequalities in the film industry, including the BFI Race and Ethnicity in the UK Film Industry: An Analysis of the Diversity Standards report in 2020. This data-driven, sample study, conducted with the support of the BFI, revealed a number of inequalities and disparities racial differences not addressed under the BFI’s diversity standards, particularly with regard to the inclusion of black and ethnic minority women, the presence of racial differences in key roles and positions on and off-screen, and the vast racial inequalities observed in regional film production.

The Color of Diversity will examine the issue of race and ethnicity across the variables of roles, positions, genres, budgets, sets and cinematic regions, and how these racial inequalities intersect with gender intersections, class, sexual orientation, disability and other protections. characteristics. In doing so, the study will aid the on-going policy developments of the CIB by performing an independent and external review of diversity standards, with the CIB providing single access to diversity standards data to deepen understanding of the construction, trends and program impacts. towards racial equality in the cultural diversity policy.

In addition to the quantitative study of data from the BFI’s diversity standard, the research team will perform a textual analysis of a large number of films that have adhered to the diversity standards from 2016 to determine how their representations Onscreen Racial and Ethnic Difference as stated in the Diversity Standards relate to the lived realities of black and ethnic minority experiences and film cultures in a range of UK contexts, regions and communities.

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