The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh at its first standalone ceremony for technical film awards – a day ahead of the main event, when actors, writers and directors will be honoured.
Prince Philip – who was the organisation’s first president, after separate film and TV organisations merged in the late 1950s – died on Friday, at the age of 99.
The host of the technical BAFTAs, Clara Amfo, began the largely virtual ceremony with a statement, saying it was thanks to the Duke and the Queen’s support that BAFTA was still around “to celebrate another outstanding year of achievement in film.” She concluded: “The Duke of Edinburgh occupies a very special place in BAFTA history and he will be missed.”
Eight awards were handed out that in previous years would have been part of the main ceremony, but under the new socially distanced arrangements for the Covid-delayed awards, the lower profile categories were relegated to a smaller event, a day earlier, to ensure that the main ceremony can maintain more momentum.
The Chicago jazz drama, starring Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, came away with two awards, for Best Costume Design and Best Hair & Make-Up.
Best Production Design went to the making-of Citizen Kane drama, Mank.
Sound of Metal won the Best Sound prize, with Best Visual Effects going to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.
The newer award, Best Casting, went to Sarah Gavron’s Rocks.
Two short film prizes were also handed out. The Present was the best live action short, while the best animation prize went to The Owl and the Pussycat.
With the winners all accepting their prizes virtually, the actor and director Noel Clarke was the only one to appear at the small event at the Royal Albert Hall in person, to receive his trophy for his Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. In his speech, he recalled his surprise at winning the Rising Star award at the 2009 BAFTAs and said young black talent should believe they deserve to win similar prizes in the future. “My journey in this business has been a battle at times,” he began. “And as I stand here right now, I know that a lot of the work I’ve done is not BAFTA-worthy, but I think this is about the journey. It’s about the times maybe it was worthy but not recognised.” He said he’d tried to elicit change in the industry and dedicated his latest award to the under-represented in the industry. “This is particularly for my young black boys and girls out there, who never believed that this could happen to them.”
A similar event will be held tonight, at which the major BAFTA Film Award categories – including acting and directing – will be announced.