UK actress and director Samantha Morton has been named as an honorary associate of The London Film School (LFS). She received the award from director Mike Leigh at the school’s annual graduation ceremony today (December 14).

The school also handed the honour to Sir Michael Wakeford, its long-standing vice-chairman.

Morton attended the ceremony to formally handed out associateships to 71 graduates from LFS’s MAs in film-making, screenwriting and craft extension.

Ben Gibson, LFS director, described Morton, who made her directorial debut this year with The Unloved, as “a truly ambitious artist”. He added: “She’s a beacon to audiences looking for commitment and intelligence and a muse to many important directors.”

Meanwhile, LFS also announced that it has been selected by Skillset to run an emerging talent programme next year. Hothouse will cover a wide range of issues from ideas through to packaging options; and aims to equip students will workable projects that are tied to realistic financial plans.

The scheme is one of a number of new initiatives for 2010, including expanding its course with Elstree Studios. At present, this includes evening, weekend and short courses covering craft workshops and seminar teaching. From January, the range of courses will be expanded to give participants the benefit of using the studio’s technical facilities.

LFS has also started an Iranian scholarship with cultural charity, Magic of Persia, which supports a student to study at the school for two years. In December, Gibson and director Mike Leigh also signed an agreement with the Culture Ministry of the Republic of Georgia to create scholarships and collaborations with the country.

Gibson added: “The school starts from the idea that international graduate school should be a centre for fostering innovation and a key player to renew independent film in its own country. Over the last two years we have developed new strands, many with the help of Skillset and the European Union, which allow us to express these ambitions.”