Joaquin Phoenix Delivers Powerful Speech on systemic racism at BAFTAs

"I'm ashamed to say that I'm part of the problem." Joaquin Phoenix berated systemic racism in the film industry, even while he was accepting a BAFTA award for best leading actor.

Bafta: Joaquin Phoenix's speech on the lack of diversity

On February 2, Joaquin Phoenix was crowned as best actor by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta), facing Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Taron Egerton and Jonathan Pryce.

He delivered an inspiring speech

“I feel very honored and privileged to be here tonight. The BAFTAS have always been very supportive of my career and I’m deeply appreciative. But I have to say that I also feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don’t have that same privilege. I think that we send a very clear message to people of color that you’re not welcome here. I think that’s the message that we’re sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry and in ways that we benefit from. I don’t think anybody wants a handout or a preferential treatment, although that’s what we give ourselves every year. I think that people just want to be acknowledged and appreciated or respected for their work. This is not a self-righteous condemnation, because I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of the problem. I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I work on are inclusive. But I think it’s more than just having sets that are multicultural. I think that we have to really do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. I think that it is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it, so that’s on us. Thank you.”

During the Bafta 2020 ceremony - the British equivalent of France’s Caesar - American actor Joaquin Phoenix, named best actor for the film Joker, used his speech of thanks to evoke the glaring absence of nominees racialized during ceremony. Like the Oscars and the Cesars, the Bafta have been widely criticized for their lack of representativeness.

More ecology but still little representativeness

This year, the Bafta have demonstrated their commitment to the climate crisis by giving up gift bags that are not very respectful of the environment and by rolling out a red carpet in recycled materials. Guests were also asked to wear outfits already worn. However, the selection, carried out for most of the categories by the approximately 6,500 members of the Bafta, in particular professionals of the cinematographic industry, was strongly criticized for its lack of diversity. to be informed.