Sidney Poitier to receive BAFTA Fellowship
by Naman Ramachandran
- Previous recipients of Academy’s highest accolade include Mike Leigh, Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) will honour Sir Sidney Poitier with the Fellowship at the British Academy Film Awards on 14 February. The annual honour is the highest accolade that the BAFTA bestows on individuals for outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games. Past Fellows include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren and Mike Leigh.
Poitier was the first African-American to play a wide range of leading roles. He was BAFTA-nominated for his performances in Edge of the City, A Raisin in the Sun, Lilies of the Field (for which he was the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1964), A Patch of Blue, In the Heat of the Night and The Defiant Ones, for which he won a BAFTA and Oscar in 1959. He has directed nine features including Stir Crazy and Fast Forward. He was presented with the Cecil B DeMille Award in 1982 was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2002.
Poitier also played an active role in the American civil rights campaign and served as Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan and UNESCO from 1997 to 2007. In 1974, he was conferred a knighthood, and in 2009 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the US.
Poitier said, “I am extremely honoured to have been chosen to receive the Fellowship and my deep appreciation to the British Academy for the recognition."