The British Academy Award, awarded by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts or BAFTA, is one of the most prestigious recognition that an artist in the motion picture industry can receive today. 

With the 74th BAFTAs just around the corner, discover the rich history of one of the world's most sought-after awards! 

The Bedrocks Of BAFTA

The British Film Academy was founded by a group of British film producers in Hyde Park Hotel on April 16, 1947, with director David Lean as their chairman.

The institution was founded to honor the people who dedicated their lives to the arts and entertainment industry in Britain. Two years after its inception, the British Film Academy organized its first event in 1949.

Eleven years later, it underwent a merger with the Guild of Television Producers & Directors to form the Society of Film and Television Arts (SFTA), which later became the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in 1976.

After facing countless problems with budgets, BAFTA finally found some financial stability after Her Majesty The Queen decided to gift the royalties from Richard Cawston’s documentary to the acclaimed institution.

In 1976, during the opening of their new headquarters, the first BAFTA mask, cast in bronze, was presented to Sir Charles Chaplin by HRH Princess Anne, the Academy’s President. 

Origin Of The BAFTA Mask & Its Maker

The designer of the world-renowned BAFTA Mask, Mitzi Cunliffe, was born and raised in New York. She attended the Fine Arts and Fine Arts Education at Columbia, after which she decided to work in the studio of a sculptor in Paris.

However, it was actually the sight of the West Front of the Cathedral in Chartres that set the course of her career. Recalling the feeling, the artist once said:

Love at first sight. I knew then that was the kind of work in which I wanted to be involved.

In 1955, when she was working from a small garage at her home in Didsbury, Manchester, a trophy mask was commissioned by Andrew Miller-Jones of the Guild of Television Producers [before its merger with British Film Academy].

The first mask modeled by Cunliffe was made in Plasticine, a material used to make casting molds.

Although the design appeared simplistic, its meaning was more than just a traditional theatrical tragicomic mask. The hollow part of the mask bore an electronic symbol around one eye and a screen symbol in the other, which linked television technology and dramatic production.

According to the original design, the mask was set upon revolving support allowing for it to turn on a vertical axis. Hence, the mask could easily be turned and the hollow design could be viewed from either side.

BAFTA 2021

According to The Sun, the BAFTA awards historically took place in March or April. However, in 2002, it was moved up to February to make sure that it took place before the Oscars.

Nonetheless, this year due to the pandemic, the awards have been moved to April 11, 2021. Scheduled to be held at Royal Albert Hall, London, BAFTA announced its nominations on March 9 with Nomadland and Rocks receiving maximum nominations.