Origins of the BAFTAs

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Origins of the BAFTAs

The glitz and glamour of show business is perhaps never so evident as it is when industry stars, filmmakers, and executives convene to bestow awards on their peers. In the United Kingdom, the annual awards for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts are an unparalleled event. With ceremonies that recognise top achievements in film, television, and even gaming, the BAFTAs have quite an interesting history in the U.K. and around the world.


History of BAFTA

A number of prominent British directors and entertainment industry professionals helped found BAFTA in 1947, although its original name was the British Film Academy. These professionals included esteemed director David Lean and famed thespian Laurence Olivier, with Lean serving as the first Chairman of the Academy. In 1958, the British Film Academy merged with the Guild of Television Producers and Directors. The resulting organisation became The Society of Film and Television Arts. The British Film Academy presented its first awards in 1949, but the organisation did not start to use the name BAFTA until 1976.

British royal involvement

The British royal family has long been involved with BAFTA in its various incarnations. For example, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was President of the Society of Film and Television Arts, which eventually became part of BAFTA. The first BAFTA headquarters on Piccadilly in London opened because of a contribution from Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. In 2010, Prince William became president of BAFTA.


BAFTA Awards

BAFTA presents different awards throughout the year for excellence in film, television, video games, and children's programming. Although the criteria for each category are different, the trophies are the same. The physical BAFTA award is a bronze mask that sits atop a marble base and weighs 3.7 kilogrammes. American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe designed the mask in 1955. Cunliffe based the mask on the idea of the classic tragicomic mask from theatre. The sculptor included an electronic symbol and a screen symbol around each eye on the reverse side of the mask to indicate the connection between drama and technology in the modern entertainment industry.

British Academy Film Awards

The British Academy Film Awards are the most widely known of the BAFTAs. Films and filmmakers from any country are eligible in most BAFTA categories. However, there are specific categories for Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Producer, or Director that are available to British filmmakers and British projects only. Other categories include Best Short Film, Best Documentary, and a variety of acting acknowledgments.

British Academy Television Awards

BAFTA honours television professionals for their achievements with the British Academy Television Awards and the British Academy Television Craft Awards. The television branch of the BAFTAs began in 1955 and has continued annually ever since. This ceremony celebrates such categories as Best Actor and Best Drama Series, while the television craft segment recognises costume design, production design, and writing. The first ceremony for the television craft awards was in 2000.

British Academy Video Game Awards

In 1998, BAFTA first presented the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Awards for all types of multimedia entertainment. However, in 2003 BAFTA retired most interactive categories and left only the video game portion of the ceremony. As of 2003, BAFTA presents the BAFTA Games Awards to video games in categories including Best Game, Game Innovation, and Best Performance for voice-over artists.

British Academy Children's Awards

Since 1969, BAFTA has had a separate ceremony for achievement in children's programming, including interactive entertainment, television, and films. These awards, which include recognition for such categories as Children's Performer and Children's Comedy, also include BAFTA Kids' Vote, where children can vote for their favourite entertainment.


Other BAFTA Activities

BAFTA maintains a charitable mission to inspire upcoming filmmakers and other creative artists who produce educational programming, including film screenings and lectures that take place around the world. The charity is independent of the British government. It receives its funds from membership fees and donations from the public as well as corporate sponsorships.


How to buy BAFTA award-winning films on eBay

Shopping on eBay is a great way to find rare films on DVD and Blu-ray that have been recognised by BAFTA. Use the search box from any page of the eBay site to search for movie titles, and then use the provided filters to narrow down your results. You can search using general terms like "action movie," or specify using the name of a director, star, or the title of a film you want. With so many sellers around the world, it is possible to buy entire collections of high-quality films while still maintaining your budget.

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