The 2012 Orange British Academy Film Awards will take place Feb. 12, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced today. Nominations for the UK’s highest film honors will be announced Jan. 17. The news comes the same day the Oscars set its 2012 date: Feb. 26.
Mad Men, which has won best international show at the Brit TV BAFTA awards for the past two years, is up against Boardwalk Empire, Glee, and Danish crime thriller The Killing. This year’s BAFTA TV awards will take place at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on May 22, fronted by chat show host Graham Norton. BBC1 will televise the show on the night.
Misfits, the sci-fi drama that U.S. broadcasters are sniffing around for a remake, leads the nominations in four categories. The BBC’s Sherlock has three nominations in total, as do Channel 4’s drama Any Human Heart and the BBC’s The Road to Coronation Street, the story of how the UK’s longest-running soap nearly never made it on air. Other names known in Hollywood up for awards include Steve Coogan and Gillian Anderson, and The X Factor is nominated for Entertainment Programme.
The BBC leads the broadcaster noms with 51 nominations in total, followed by Channel 4 (26), ITV (8) and Sky (6), the highest-ever number of nominations for Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV service, including the first-ever for a 3D program:
Philips British Academy TV Awards 2011 Nominations
Jim Broadbent/Any Human Heart/Channel 4
Benedict Cumberbatch/Sherlock/BBC One
Daniel Rigby/Eric and Ernie/BBC Four
Matt Smith/Doctor Who/BBC One
Anna Maxwell Martin/South Riding/BBC One
Vicky McClure/This Is England ’86/Channel 4
Natalie Press/Five Daughters/BBC One
Juliet Stevenson/Accused/BBC One
Brendan Coyle/Downton Abbey/ITV1
Martin Freeman/Sherlock/BBC One
Johnny Harris/This Is England ’86/Channel 4
Gillian Anderson/Any Human Heart/Channel 4
Lynda Baron/The Road to Coronation Street/BBC Four
Jessie Wallace/The Road to Coronation Street/BBC Four
Rob Brydon/The Rob Brydon Show/BBC Two
Stephen Fry/QI/BBC One
Harry Hill/Harry Hill’s TV Burp/ITV1
Graham Norton/The Graham Norton Show/BBC One
On Sunday February 13th the British Academy of Film and Television Arts will present Sir Christopher Lee with the Academy Fellowship at the Orange British Academy Film Awards ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House. Awarded annually by the Academy, the Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film. Previously honoured Fellows include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Christie, John Barry, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Terry Gilliam and Judi Dench. Last year’s recipient was Vanessa Redgrave.
Britain’s Culture Ministry just handed leadership of the industry back to the British Film Institute. The organisation will take control of and devise strategy for £15 million (£23 million) of lottery funding each year, and administer the £100 million tax incentive. Ex-BBC boss and now BFI boss Greg Dyke was understandably ecstatic. He immediately announced that the BFI hopes to increase lottery funding for film to £18 million in 2011/2012 – an increase of 20%. Dyke told me the BFI will take over movie funding in April next year. “This decision is a great vote of confidence in the BFI. It is a bold move to create a single champion for film in the UK and we welcome it. We want to achieve greater coherence across the whole film sector and to strike a balance between cultural and commercial. We see an opportunity to reduce overhead costs which in turn will allow us to put more of the lottery funds into frontline activities.”
The culture minister underlined that the film tax credit – so crucial for attracting U.S. investment — is here to stay. Overseas filmmakers injected £780 million into the British economy last year. Vaizey said: “Some people think there are two British film industries — one indigenous and the other supporting big American movies. I don’t agree. Hollywood investment promotes both British characters and British storytelling.”
Film London will take over promoting the UK as a moviemaking destination from the British Film Commission. Vaizey called this a “public/private partnership” – in short, the government is asking the private sector to cough up if it wants an office whose job it is to attract Hollywood to Britain. Studios such as Pinewood Shepperton and VFX houses such as Framestore would, after all, have the most to gain.
And Film London and BFI will also work with BAFTA and BBC Worldwide on how to increase the number of UK films being released abroad – the role which Unifrance performs for the French film industry. The organisations will also showcase the work of British filmmakers in Hollywood. The BBC already runs showcases in China and in Latin America.
Vaizey also announced he was setting up a ministerial roundtable that will meet every 6 months to address film industry problems.
Vaizey said he would consider proposals from industry organisations such as the British Screen Advisory Council and the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television to help create “a sustainable film industry”. Vaizey expects to implement these proposals by spring 2012. What was interesting was that he used the word “sustainable”. This phrase has become a shibboleth for British film policy makers. Creating a sustainable British film industry was the original mission statement of the UK Film Council – until it quietly dropped it as unworkable. “The ‘sustainable’ word is back,” Dyke observes. “The Film Council wanted to do it but they just couldn’t live with it.”
Today’s announcement from a Tory government was surprisingly well-received by the traditionally left-of-centre British film industry. It was amusing to see the jockeying for position already within this new world order. It was almost as if the UK Film Council had never existed. How quickly the waters close over one’s head. “There’s an irony in that a year ago the government was forcing the BFI to merge with the Film Council,” Dyke tells me. “Fine, we said, but it’s got to be on the right terms. Today we got those terms.”
Extravagant film producer Alexander Korda first broached the idea of establishing a British equivalent of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over a suitably lavish dinner he was hosting for his fellow film swells at swank Claridge’s Hotel on May 13, 1947. Those sitting round the table included directors David Lean and Carol Reed and Ealing Comedies creator Michael Balcon. Having worked their way through sole with Liebfraumilch followed by steak and kidney pie, Korda compared their dessert of hot whipped meringue concealing a frozen ice cream heart to Russian women of his acquaintance. That’s when the conversation abruptly turned to why didn’t Britain have its own film academy giving awards? There had never been a British equivalent of the Oscars, so Lean was appointed the first chairman and donated his royalties. At the inaugural awards on May 29, 1949, Laurence Olivier presented just four categories. Now the British Academy Of Film & Television Arts presents 22 at its televised film–only awards show.
If you think the Oscars are overly complicated, then the BAFTAs will positively baffle. That’s because the current push is for their increasing democratization. Only the 6,350 film members are allowed to vote for the motion picture awards. They used to wade through every film released in Britain but that changed in 2005 when it became the responsibility of each pic’s producer and distributor to decide submissions which close on November 18 for the 2011 BAFTAs. The longlist will be published on December 3.
BAFTA’s management has long debated
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