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National Film and Television School to receive Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at BAFTAs

Story by Jack Foley

THE National Film and Television School (NFTS) will receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the EE British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The OBCtC Award is presented annually in honour of Michael Balcon, the British film producer known for his work with Ealing Studios.

Previous recipients include Mike Leigh, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jarman, Mary Selway, Ridley and Tony Scott, the Harry Potter series of films, John Hurt, Tessa Ross and Angels Costumes. Curzon received the award last year.

Marc Samuelson, Chairman of BAFTA’s Film Committee, said: “I am thrilled that the National Film and Television School will receive this honour. The NFTS provides a fantastic training ground for the next generation of creative talent – each year many of BAFTA’s talented scholarship recipients receive their training at the school, and an overwhelming number of its students and alumni go on to become BAFTA-winners and household names. The NFTS is a truly integral part of our industry, and is hugely deserving of this award.”

Dr Jonathan Wardle, Director of NFTS, commented: “This award is a huge honour. For almost five decades the NFTS has trained and educated people who go on to power British cinema. Our graduates have been responsible for some of British film and television’s greatest moments in recent years.

“With the generous support from our donors and the wider British film, television and games industries, we will continue to provide the people that ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the creative industries globally for years to come.”

Patrick McKenna, NFTS Chairman, added: “For decades the National Film and Television School has been at the heart of Britain’s creative industries and I am delighted that this has been recognised by BAFTA. This award marks a pivotal time in the School’s history as it enters an exciting period of growth and builds on its worldwide reputation for developing the talent that fuels our film, TV and games industries.”

The National Film School (as it was first named) opened in 1971, the culmination of a major effort by the industry and government to create an institution to educate and train talent for the British film industry.

The NFTS bought the old Beaconsfield Film Studios in Buckinghamshire and set about refitting it to professional industry standards. Founder Colin Young established four permanent departments – production, camera, editing and sound – and in 1971 the first intake of 25 students passed through the studio gates.

Directors Mike Radford (The Merchant of Venice, Il Postino), Bill Forsyth (Local Hero) and Ben Lewin (Ally McBeal), pioneering documentarist Nick Broomfield (Aileen: Portrait of a Serial Killer), and visual effects specialist Dennis Lowe (Cold Mountain, The English Patient) were among their number.

In 2003, Nik Powell took over the running of the school. Under his leadership, Powell oversaw a huge growth in size and scale of the NFTS, and during his time as director he cemented its reputation as one the finest film schools in the world. Powell stepped down from the role in July 2017.

In January this year, BAFTA and Oscar-nominated writer, producer and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) was appointed as the school’s first associate director.

Today, the NFTS focusses on producing career-ready students across a wide range of practical disciplines that meet industry needs. With more behind-the-camera courses than any other film school, the NFTS is recognised internationally as a model of excellence in specialist higher education and one of the world’s pre-eminent institutions in film and the moving image.

The NFTS boasts alumni including BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated cinematographer, Roger Deakins (No Country For Old Men); BAFTA-winning director, David Yates (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them); BAFTA and Oscar-winning animator Nick Park (Wallace And Gromit), Oscar-winning and BAFTA-nominated composer Dario Marianelli (Darkest Hour), BAFTA-winning director, Sarah Gavron (Suffragette), Cannes Film Festival Vulcain Prize for the Technical Artist winning Cinematographer, Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Molly’s Game) and BAFTA-winning director, Lynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin).

The NFTS leads the way in bringing forward the best film, television and games design talent and is an essential talent pipeline for the UK’s creative industries.

The school’s awards success is a testament to its teaching. The 2018 EE British Academy Film Awards marks a record year in this respect, with NFTS students and alumni garnering a total of 10 nominations, and 126 alumni credited across all the nominated films.*

Across the school’s history, NFTS students and alumni have won an incredible 129 awards across the BAFTA’s various awards ceremonies, including 20 at previous British Academy Film Awards.

NFTS alumni have also won 10 Oscars and received a further 49 Oscar nominations for their feature film work. 12 graduation films by NFTS students have won BAFTAs, eight have received Oscar nominations and six have won Student Academy Awards.

The EE British Academy Film Awards will take place on Sunday, February 18 at the Royal Albert Hall.