British director to receive BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema.

BAFTA is to honour director Peter Greenaway, best known for 1989’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, with the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony in London on Sunday (Feb 16).

The award-winning British writer and director originally trained as a painter and worked at the Central Office of Information (COI) for 15 years, during which time he directed and edited a series of short films, the first of which was Death of Sentiment.

Greenaway made his first feature film in 1980, entitled The Falls, and was the first of many collaborations with composer Michael Nyman. His critical breakthrough came in 1982 with 17th century drama The Draughtsman’s Contract and he went on to make the seminal The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover in 1989.

Over the course of his career, Greenaway has been nominated for a total of 37 awards, twice for the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or for 8 1/2 Women and The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story.

His latest film, Eisenstein in Guanajuato, is scheduled for release later this year.

Previous recipients of the BAFTA honour include Mike Leigh, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jarman, Mary Selway, Ridley and Tony Scott, Working Title Films, Lewis Gilbert, John Hurt and the Harry Potter series of films.  

Last year’s recipient was Tessa Ross, the controller of film and drama at UK broadcaster Channel 4 who heads up feature film division Film4.

Nik Powell, chairman of BAFTA’s Film Committee, said: “Peter Greenaway is an iconic British filmmaker who has worked with many of our most accomplished actors including Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, Ewan McGregor and the recipient of this year’s BAFTA Fellowship, Dame Helen Mirren. I’m delighted that Peter is being recognised with this award for his distinctive and innovative filmmaking career.”

Greenaway said: “Given the always complex effort involved, to be permitted in the first place to make films with so many collaborators always astonishes me, and to be permitted the licence to do so with such freedom to continually experiment even more so.

“Everyone agrees that cinema is changing its characteristics very fast and to be awarded a BAFTA for trying to contribute to that change is a pleasure and a delight, an encouragement and an acknowledgment that the effort is valuable, certainly for myself and certainly for all those numerous collaborators who have assisted me in this effort over more than 30 years.”

This year’s BAFTAs take place on Sunday (Feb 16) the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, hosted by Stephen Fry.