Academy establishes new code of conduct

Oscar body requires ethics as well as excellence

by Jennie Kermode

The Academy's headquarters in Beverly Hills
The Academy's headquarters in Beverly Hills Photo: Downtowngal

"In addition to achieving excellence in the field of motion picture arts and sciences, members must also behave ethically by upholding the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity," says a new set of standards introduced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in response to the events of the past few months. The code, which was formally instituted on Saturday, follows Casey Affleck's decision to withdraw from this year's Oscar ceremony because he has faced accusations of sexual harassment (which he denies).

Under the new system, the organisation's membership and administration committees will consider claims that have supporting evidence, such as witnesses or reports made at the time of alleged historical incidents. They will also examine situations in which multiple complaints have been made against a single individual. The accused will be given an opportunity to defend themselves and if they cannot do so conviincingly, the Academy will consider suspension or expulsion.

Earlier this month, at the Screen Actors' Guild awards, Brie Larson said that work was underway on a new code of conduct for the industry.

"There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognised standards of decency," says the Academy's code, which sets out not just to discourage sexual offending but to protect people working in the industry from other forms of prejudice and discrimination, including racism and homophobia.

Tomorrow will mark the 40th anniversary of Roman Polanski's decision to flee the US after being convicted of statutory rape. It remains unclear how the Academy's new stance will impact him or other well known industry professionals who have been the subject of serious complaints in the past.

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