Bafta chairwoman Dame Pippa Harris said the lack of women in this year’s directing category at the film awards is an “industry-wide problem”.
Speaking to the Press Association on the red carpet as this year’s event kicked off at London’s Royal Albert Hall, she also said the nomination of Netflix film Roma had “marked a real change in the way people are consuming film”.
She said: “I make Call The Midwife for BBC One, which is going out tonight. We almost entirely use female directors so there are female directors out there – they are extremely good.
“There has been a traditional problem with getting females to be noticed in terms of their TV work and then get picked up to make feature films.
“Men seem to find that transition much easier.
“But I think gradually that’s happening. We had a scheme called Bafta Elevate which supported 15 talented female directors to take them to the next level of their careers.
“We’ve already employed five of them on Call The Midwife, so I think it will change but it needs to change more quickly.”
She hailed Roma’s nomination adding: “Audiences are delighted to see films on the big screen but they are equally delighted to see something of the calibre of Roma going out on their TV at home, so I think that has been a bit of a game-changer for everyone.”
Dame Pippa said she was excited by the British names in the actress and supporting actress categories.
She said: “Claire Foy – who we all know for her TV work – but her first film nomination. Also Olivia Colman has never had a film nomination before but there she is right up in contention to win best actress. So it’s a really great year.”
Barry Jenkins, who is in the running for best adapted screenplay for his film If Beale Street Could Talk, told the Press Association of his joy at being nominated.
He said: “It feels great, I never imagined I would make anything that would be nominated for a Bafta so I think to be here again means the world to me”.
Jenkins also spoke about being nominated during this awards season alongside other filmmakers including Spike Lee and The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos.
He said: “I’ve seen Spike quite a bit, Yorgos I’ve seen quite a bit, it’s such a rare thing to be in the middle of award season so it kind of bonds you in a certain way”.
The Favourite leads the Bafta nominations this year with 12 nods, including for best film and outstanding British film.
This year’s ceremony will be attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
William, who is the president of Bafta, will present the Academy’s highest accolade, the Fellowship, to film editor Thelma Schoonmaker.