All that you need to know about BAFTA Breakthrough India 2021!

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)  launched in India and is calling all Indian games directors, producers and developers to apply for their talent initiative ‘BAFTA Breakthrough’. For the first time, the initiative will recognise five emerging Indian talents across the film, games and television industries.

Tim Hunter

BAFTA Breakthrough India, supported by Netflix, marks BAFTA’s arrival in India, showcasing and propelling the upcoming generation of creative talent in film, games and television globally alongside talent selected talent from the UK, USA and China. To know more about BAFTA Breakthrough AnimationXpress reached out to BAFTA director of learning and new talent Tim Hunter and here is the excerpt:

This is the first time BAFTA breakthrough is coming to India. How is the scale of opportunity for the emerging talents in India?

The scale of the opportunities for the individuals chosen is really limitless. We work on a bespoke basis with all our Breakthrough talent, ensuring that we can provide whatever it is they need to make it to that next level in their creative careers. BAFTA Breakthrough identifies the most exciting new talent coming up in the film, games and television industries and gives them access to unique career development and mentoring opportunities.

This year, it is a bigger opportunity than ever before, with new international collaboration opportunities between Breakthrough talent. We are very excited to have launched BAFTA Breakthrough India with our supporting partner Netflix who are helping to facilitate this global expansion. This year marks the first time the initiative is working across four regions globally in the UK, USA, India and China. Breakthrough has been active in the UK since 2013, having supported over 160 talented creatives, in 2019 we launched in China for the first time, and in 2020 we launched in both the USA and India. We hope to bring together creative talents from across the world in order to nurture and support interesting stories with diverse voices.

In the past, the programme has supported individuals such as Tom Holland, Letitia Wright, Florence Pugh, Jessie Buckley, Josh O’Connor, and Callum Turner. Supporters of the initiative in recent years also include actors Olivia Colman and Tilda Swinton, actor-producer Brad Pitt, directors Tom Harper and Barry Jenkins, game designers Brenda Romero and Tim Schafer, and actor-writers Sharon Horgan and Amy Schumer.

Could you share the virtual setup for the BAFTA Breakthrough?

There’s no doubt the COVID-19 outbreak has affected our plans and now more than ever the industry needs to feel connected and supported. BAFTA is continuing to creatively inspire the industry, keeping connections and vital networks alive during this time. Whilst there’s no doubt that everyone is missing the human connection, there have been some benefits to working online – we’ve seen participation in our events increase across the board and people are more available to offer their time to initiatives like Breakthrough. Nothing beats being able to experience a country and new contacts in person, but until travel is allowed we are taking advantage of the online connections we’re able to foster.

More will be announced soon as we continue to monitor the situation in all regions closely and follow the advice of local government and organisations.

What will the five recipients of BAFTA Breakthrough India receive as an opportunity after being selected?

Up to five chosen participants will receive one-to-one mentoring, global networking opportunities, free access to BAFTA events and screenings for 12 months, and full voting BAFTA membership.

The chosen talent will also connect with and learn from some of the best in the British and Indian creative industries, share their expertise with peers around the world, gain access to opportunities beyond geographical borders, and be promoted as BAFTA Breakthrough artists globally.

Beyond that first year of support, the talent will continue to be part of the Breakthrough family and will continue to benefit from the active network of support offered by other Breakthroughs and BAFTA.

Why do you think it launched late in India compared to other countries where a large number of outsourced works are done by Indian creators?

We had plans to extend the initiative internationally, with China opening in late 2019 and USA and India opening in 2020. Netflix has been our supporting partner of the Breakthrough UK, India and USA initiatives since 2019, facilitating this global expansion and cross-cultural collaboration.

We have been running Breakthrough in the UK for much longer, since 2013. As the home of BAFTA, this was the logical first place for us to establish Breakthrough, but we’re now proud to be able to extend our flagship initiative across the globe. With the increasing international nature of our creative industries, we believe there are rich and diverse stories to be told and hope that in bringing together talent from across the world we will uncover some of these stories.

India is internationally respected as having a pool of creative talent in India and a rich culture of storytelling and this is why it was one of the first international territories we looked to for the expansion of Breakthrough.

What are the factors that pushed BAFTA Breakthrough to launch this year in India? 

As BAFTA expands to become a leading global arts charity, we want to support emerging talent in thriving screen industries to help secure the future of those industries and open up opportunities.

The games industry is global – television and film increasingly so – therefore we want to help emerging talent create vital international connections to thrive.

India has the world’s largest film industry, in terms of films produced, and over the past few years, India’s games industry has seen a lot of growth, emerging as the preferred hub for gaming process outsourcing. So it was the natural choice to expand to India and discover some of the amazing talents this country has to offer.

Who can register for the BAFTA Breakthrough?

India is a very vast and diverse pool of talent. We’re looking for creatives who have had one major credit in the last couple of years, who see themselves as an exciting new performer, writer, director, producer, composer, cinematographer or game director, game producer or game developer within the Indian film, games, or television industries. Applications can be submitted on our website at

To be eligible, applicants must be over 18 years of age at the time of submission, primary residents of India for at least two years, and conversationally fluent in English. With the aim to encourage cross-cultural dialogue in film, games, and television, this programme is looking for candidates who would be willing to collaborate and share their expertise with UK practitioners and/or produce content for UK audiences.

Applicants will also require a recommendation from a relevant regional film, games, or television industry organisation, alongside a leading professional credit on a piece of work that has been:

  • theatrically released in India
  • or broadcast on a television channel or OTT platform in India
  • or released in India and is playable by these audiences

AR Rahaman is the ambassador; could you tell us more about his association?   

We are excited to be working with the BAFTA-winning, A.R. Rahman and grateful for his support of Breakthrough India. Rahman is a natural fit as an ambassador for Breakthrough, he is an industry leader in his creative work and has a genuine passion for developing new talent. He is well-positioned to support the initiative with a broad spectrum of work stretching across Hindi, Tamil and Telugu films which will help BAFTA to appeal to a wide section of the industry.

What can we expect from BAFTA Breakthrough India 2021?

The Indian creative industry has a vast history represented in their many diverse forms of storytelling.

The industry has a unique thread of diversity that binds it together and with so many languages, it has a market for all types of homegrown expression. There is so much talent within this rich and developed industry that we cannot wait to showcase and learn from.

The connections we hope to make in India with Breakthrough includes but stretches far beyond ‘Bollywood’. The beauty of Indian cinema lies in the diversity of its various film industries. This initiative will be looking for talent across every corner of the Indian film, games and television industries that we can showcase to the world. We look forward to announcing the five chosen talents later this year.