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Sam Mendes says gender-neutral Oscars are ‘inevitable’

Sam Mendes has discussed the topic of gender-neutral awards, saying he thinks it is “inevitable” that the Oscars will go in that direction.

During a new interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, the Empire of Light director was asked about Emma Corrin’s call to eliminate gender from awards shows.

“I have total sympathy with it, yeah, and I think it might well be inevitable in the end,” he said. “I think that’s the way it’s moving and I think that it’s perfectly reasonable.”

He added: “For me, people forget with awards, I think this happens all the time, they use it as a bellwether for the industry but the truth is awards are a TV show. You know, awards are there to promote films.

“If that film wins an award, I’m more likely to go and see it and that’s what you’re doing there. It’s not about yourself, it’s not about the art or craft of the industry, especially. It’s about selling films.”

Mendes won an Oscar for directing the 1999 film American Beauty. He was also nominated for numerous Oscars for his 2019 war film 1917.

Corrin, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, previously told BBC News that they “hoped for a future” where gender-neutral awards have a place.

“I don’t think the categories are inclusive enough at the moment,” they continued. “It’s difficult for me at the moment trying to justify in my head being non-binary and being nominated in female categories.

“When it comes to categories, do we need to make it specific as to whether you’re being nominated for a female role or a male role?”

The TV and film world are behind on this issue, compared with music awards organisations – the Brits, the Grammys and the VMAs have all dropped gender-based categories.

The Brits made the move last year, after it had been called for by artists including Sam Smith and Will Young, who also argued that gendered categories excluded non-binary musicians.