BAFTA is expanding its U.S. awards activity with the year-round presentation of Special Awards to recipients in North America.
BAFTA Special Awards are honorary awards presented to those who have made a significant contribution to film, games and television through a particular project or their overall body of work. The Special Awards, which among others include the Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award and the Fellowship Award, are a mainstay of the British Academy’s U.K. prizes.
BAFTA says these year-round awards are an “evolution” of the Britannia Awards ceremony, an event that was previously hosted once a year in Los Angeles, and which last took place in 2019. The org has made clear to Variety that the Britannia’s aren’t necessarily canceled, but will rather take on a different shape as more awards are presented across the calendar year.
Special Awards recipients in North America will receive the signature BAFTA mask and presentations will take place at bespoke events, in different cities, throughout the year. The inaugural event is expected to be held in Los Angeles, though timing hasn’t yet been announced. Details of the first recipient are expected soon.
Special Awards are “in the gift” of BAFTA and recipients can be put forward by members, the sector committees and the BAFTA North America Board, which is chaired by Kathryn Busby.
The move follows BAFTA’s review of its presentation of honorary awards, and a year after the organization expanded its North America operations, which has included expanding membership benefits, growing its Learning, Inclusion and Talent programs, and an inaugural presence at the Toronto International Film Festival.
BAFTA has had a presence in the U.S. since the formation of BAFTA Los Angeles in 1987, followed by BAFTA New York in 1996. The British Academy has close to 2,000 members in North America, and its activities span screenings and Q&As to tea parties, the BAFTA Breakthrough U.S.A. event, the Yugo BAFTA Student Awards, the U.S. Newcomers Program, scholarships, and the Vance Byrd Mentorship program.
BAFTA North America chair Busby said: “This is an incredibly exciting moment for BAFTA, as we evolve and expand our award presentations and activities. Creating the opportunity to present awards year-round and celebrate excellence at more locations was a priority for our Board this year as we expand BAFTA’s mission and activity across North America, so we are delighted to be able to now announce this new direction.”
Matthew Wiseman, executive director and head of North America for BAFTA, said: “To be able to capture the same spirit and warmth of the Britannia Awards event, and now present honorary awards throughout the year and in different cities, is an exciting prospect that will enable BAFTA to celebrate those who have made exceptional contributions to our industry in even more impactful and unique ways. We will also be able to use these moments to further inspire future generations of talent across our industry, many of whom will in turn be supported by BAFTA’s many Learning, Inclusion and Talent programs globally.”