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Bafta's Top Honour for Lord Puttnam

24 February 2006

FOCAL International's Chair of Patrons, Lord Puttnam has been awarded the prestigious Fellowship Award at the recent Bafta awards.

The award, which is the highest accolade the Academy presents, is bestowed on an individual for their work and achievements throughout their career in the industry, and previous recipients have included Charlie Chaplin and Steven Spielberg.

In receiving the award, Lord Puttnam was recognised for his contribution to film-making including such stellar hits as The Mission, The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire, Bugsy Malone, Memphis Belle and Midnight Express. He was also Chairman and Chief Executive of Columbia Pictures from 1986 to 1988 - the only non-American ever to run a Hollywood studio.

Bafta chairman Duncan Kenworthy said that Lord Puttnam - who turns 65 this week - is one of the few producers whose name is known to audiences. He added: 'His extraordinary reputation rests as much on the inspirational appeal and intelligence of his films as on their production values - one suspects audiences come away changed as well as entertained.'

Born in London in 1941, Lord Puttnam began his working life as a photographer's agent working with such luminaries as David Bailey, and spent a short stint in advertising before changing course in the late 1960s to move into film production.

One of his first successes as a producer came in 1976, when a collaboration with director Alan Parker produced runaway hit Bugsy Malone. This was swiftly followed in 1978 with the hit Midnight Express.

Lord Puttnam established a reputation for giving promising young talents a chance to make their mark - in 1977 he worked with Ridley Scott on The Duellists and in 1984 with Roland Joffe on The Killing Fields.

And his career hit new heights when he produced Hugh Hudson's Chariots Of Fire in 1981. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In 1986 Lord Puttnam became the first European boss of a Hollywood studio - Columbia Pictures.
His stormy two-year-reign was not a success. He had hoped to make low-budget European style films but fell out with big name stars and producers of Blockbusters such as Rambo.

In 1988 he returned to England intent on resuming his career as a film-maker and went on to make Memphis Belle in 1990 and My Life So Far in 2000, with Joffe.

In 2000, Lord Puttnam announced his intention to retire from the film industry to concentrate his attention on politics and education. He has been Chancellor of the University of Sunderland since 1998. He was the founder (in 1998) and is Chair of Trustees of the National Teaching Awards. In addition to having served as the first Chair of the General Teaching Council (2000-2002), he has also served on a variety of other public bodies. He was founding Chair of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, and for ten years chaired the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. He was also Vice President and Chair of Trustees at BAFTA from 1994 to 2004. In July 2002, David was appointed President of UNICEF UK and in 2005 he became Chair of Patrons, FOCAL International.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

LORD PUTTNAM OF QUEENSGATE, C.B.E.
PRESIDENT OF UNICEF UK
David Puttnam was educated in London at Minchenden Grammar School. He completed his education at evening classes at City and Guilds, London. After ten years in the advertising industry, he spent thirty years as an independent film producer. His many award winning films include The Mission, the Killing Fields, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone, and the Memphis Belle. He was Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Pictures from 1986 to 1988 - the only non-American ever to run a Hollywood Studio.

David retired from film production in 1998 and now focuses on his work in education. He has been Chancellor of the University of Sunderland since 1998. He was the founder (in 1998) and is Chair of Trustees of the National Teaching Awards. In addition to having served as the first Chair of the General Teaching Council (2000-2002), he has also served on a variety of other public bodies. He was founding Chair of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, and for ten years chaired the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. He was also Vice President and Chair of Trustees at BAFTA from 1994 to 2004.

In July 2002, David was appointed President of UNICEF UK, and has played a key role in promoting UNICEF’s advocacy, awareness and fundraising objectives. In 2003 he launched UNICEF UK's End Child Exploitation campaign, following a fact-finding mission to Cambodia in the company of BBC television and The Mirror newspaper. He has also travelled to Bosnia, Nigeria, Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa and Laos to help raise awareness of issues that affect children ranging from trafficking and conflict to child labour and the need for universal primary education, clean water and immunisation. In the UK he has been instrumental in helping to forge new fundraising partnerships within the film, music and property industries, and has spoken at numerous events.

David was awarded a CBE in 1982, received a Knighthood in 1995 and was appointed to the House of Lords in 1997. In France he has been honoured as a Chevalier and, later, an Officer of Arts and letters.