Film4 head Tessa Ross is to receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the EE British Academy Film Awards next month.

Ross, who is controller of film and drama at Channel 4, will receive that honour at London’s Royal Opera House on Feb 10.

Previous recipients of the honour include Mike Leigh, Kenneth Branagh and both Ridley and Tony Scott. Last year’s recipient was John Hurt.

BAFTA chairman John Willis praised Ross for her “passion for great writing and directing, which has shone through every film she has been involved with.”

Ross said the award was both “a surprise and a great honour”. She added: “There are incredibly talented people working within our industry, as well as outside it – and 30 years ago Film4 was built to find these people, nurture them and help contribute to our British film culture.  It’s a privilege to try to keep this idea alive.”

Ross has built a reputation for nurturing filmmakers through their first features such as as Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot, Chris Morris’ Four Lions, Steve McQueen’s Hunger, Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block, Sam Taylor-Wood’s Nowhere Boy and Richard Ayoade’s Submarine.

She has also developed longstanding working relationships with established British filmmakers such as Danny Boyle, Shane Meadows, Mike Leigh, Michael Winterbottom, Roger Michell and Kevin Macdonald. 

Upcoming releases see her working with Boyle on Trance, Ayoade on The Double, Winterbottom on The Look of Love, McQueen on Twelve Years a Slave, Macdonald on How I Live Now, Jonathan Glazer on Under the Skin, Lenny Abrahamson on Frank, Clio Barnard on The Selfish Giant, Meadows on his Stone Roses documentary, and Anton Corbijn on A Most Wanted Man.  

Recent Film4 films Seven Psychopaths, The Imposter and The Curse are nominated this year in the Outstanding British Film, Outstanding Debut, Documentary and Short Film categories respectively.

Ross joined Channel 4 from the BBC’s Independent Commissioning Group where, as head of drama, her orders included Paul Abbott’s Clocking Off and Stephen Daldrey’s award-winning Billy Elliot.

She was previously a governor at the BFI, a governor at the NFTS, a member of the ICA council and an external examiner for the MA in Screenwriting at the Northern Film School. She is currently a member of the National Theatre board and an honorary associate of the London Film School.

Ross was appointed CBE in the New Year 2010 Honours List for her services to broadcasting.

The BAFTA Awards, hosted by Stephen Fry, will be broadcast on BBC One in the UK and has been sold to broadcasters in major territories around the world.