The Oscars took place last week and while there were some big winners from Green Book winning the Best Movie award to Alfonso Cuarón winning Best director, no one can debate that the biggest win of the night was diversity! The 91st Annual Academy Award saw historic wins for diversity as more women and black nominees won than ever before. Hannah Beachler and Ruth Carter became the first black winners in the costume design and production categories.
The inclusivity of the Oscars 2019 comes as a stark contrast to the award function of the previous years that have often been highly criticised for their ‘all white’ nominees. Not to forget the amount of backlash over the limited wins for women considering for example, only one woman has ever won the Academy Award for Best Director.
While these steps of progress show promise for the years to come, the film industry clearly has a long way to go. Through this discussion, it is important to establish that sometimes this fight for equality is misplaced. Equality is not about claiming that women and people of colour must win more awards, which would cause reservation of nominee choices. Rather, equality comes from a fight that enables an environment in the film industry wherein minorities are given the same levels of opportunity wherein they can reach their full potential.
Talented women directors must be given equal levels of funding to make films, female actors must be paid the same amount as their male co-stars and girls must be given the same level of opportunity to get into film school. Characters of different ethnicities must be cast appropriately and represented in films. Differently abed individuals must be cat to represent their disabilities. Stories must be written around people with different sexual orientations and people of colour to represent the real world, rather than forcing these characters into heterosexual, white dominant films to claim inclusivity.
The day that such equality is established, award ceremonies can be celebrated for the art of filmmaking over and above everything else. It creates a world wherein we no longer have to focus on the injustice and inequalities of the system, rather appreciate the talent in itself. There would no longer be debates around white producers or black costume directors, male actors or female cinematographers - the Oscars and all other awards would truly be a celebration of the best individuals in the field and nothing else.