Los Angeles, CA, October 6, 2009 -- The British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles (BAFTA/LA) will honor screen legend Kirk Douglas for his contribution to Worldwide Filmed Entertainment at the 2009 BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. Colin Firth will be receiving the BAFTA/LA Humanitarian Award Presented by Volvo and Academy Award and BAFTA award-winning director Danny Boyle will be presented with the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in Directing. BAFTA/LA previously announced Robert De Niro as the honoree for this year's Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film as well as Emily Blunt for the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year.
"Kirk Douglas is an acting institution whose iconic roles have made him an archetypal international movie star," says BAFTA/LA Chairman Peter Morris." His filmography is second to none and outside the world of film he has continued to inspire audiences worldwide through his books and his charitable endeavors. It could not be more fitting that BAFTA/LA is honoring Mr. Douglas for his lasting legacy to worldwide entertainment."
Morris continues, "This year's honorees have consistently inspired us and audiences worldwide with their incredible talent and presence on and off screen, and we are proud to honor their remarkable accomplishments and welcome them to the distinguished pantheon of BAFTA/LA honorees."
Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated actor and writer Stephen Fry will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Fry has previously hosted the British Academy Film Awards for three consecutive years. His film and TV credits include Wilde, Peter's Friends, Gosford Park, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and most recently Bones and Kingdom.
A lifetime of achievement -- which includes 87 films, 10 plays, 9 books, and a host of other contributions to his art, his country, and his fellowmen -- speaks for itself. Born December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, Kirk Douglas made his Broadway debut as a singing Western Union boy in Spring Again, but interrupted his budding stage career in 1942 to enlist in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a communications officer in anti-submarine warfare.
After the war he returned to Broadway as the ghost soldier in The Wind is Ninety. His widely praised performance caught the attention of Hollywood, and he was cast opposite Barbara Stanwyck in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Three years later, after an unsuccessful return to Broadway, his agents arranged for him to co-star with Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck in The Great Sinner. His agents were aghast when he declined to play that part. Instead, he chose the role of the anti-hero, Mr. Kelly, in Champion, at a much lower salary. The cynical boxer in Stanley Kramer's Champion, won him both stardom and an Academy Award nomination. He received his second nomination in 1952 for playing an opportunistic movie mogul in The Bad and the Beautiful, and his third in 1956 for his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in Lust for Life, for which he won the New York Film Critics' Best Actor Award.
In 1955, Mr. Douglas formed one of Hollywood's first independent film companies, Bryna, named for his mother, and managed by his wife, Anne. The Bryna Company produced many memorable films, including Paths of Glory, The Vikings, Spartacus, Lonely are the Brave, and Seven Days in May. In 1958, Mr. Douglas broke the notorious Hollywood blacklist when he gave screen credit to blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo for the Spartacus screenplay. Mr. Douglas was widely condemned for his decision at the time. It was not until 30 years later that the American Civil Liberties Union and the Writers Guild of America recognized his act as courageous.
Among the top awards Douglas received was the Medal of Freedom, the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, the Academy Award for "50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community," the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's inaugural Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and the Presidential Medal of the Arts. He had a high school named for him in West Granada Hills and a street named after him in Palm Springs.
When not acting, Mr. Douglas occupies his time writing. His credits include The Ragman's Son, Dance with the Devil, The Gift, Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning, My Stroke of Luck, Last Tango in Brooklyn and Let's Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving and Learning, as well as the children's books, The Broken Mirror and Young Heroes of the Bible .
In 1996, he had a stroke which affected his speech. For a time, he believed this would end his career as an actor, but with the encouragement of his friends and family, he kept working with a speech therapist and at the end of 1998, he played the role of a feisty ex-boxer recovering from a stroke. Diamonds was released in December of 1999.
In 2003 he filmed It Runs in the Family with his son Michael and grandson Cameron. He followed that with a movie, Illusion. He said that will be his last movie, but don't count on it. In the meantime, he made a documentary with his son Michael dramatizing the relationship between them, it is called A Father A Son: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Mr. Douglas recently wrote and performed a one man show called Before I Forget that opened to rave reviews and sold out performances in Los Angeles. It is currently being adapted for a future theatrical release of which all proceeds will go to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
In addition to being an internationally recognized actor, Colin Firth is an Ambassador for Oxfam International, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty and related injustice around the world. He is also a supporter of Survival International and the co founder of CafÃ© Progreso, a fair trade coffee chain. Firth is also involved with Eco Age, a retail store and environmental consultancy promoting green living. In 2008 he was named "Philanthropist of the Year" by The Hollywood Reporter and in 2006 he was voted "European Campaigner of the Year" by the EU.
Firth's versatility has been recognized in both dramas and comedies, garnering critical acclaim and awards including nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, an Emmy nomination, and multiple BAFTA nominations. Firth will next be seen starring in A Single Man, based on the acclaimed Christopher Isherwood novel. Tom Ford makes his directorial debut with the film which stars Firth as a man contemplating what may be the last day of his life. Firth was recently awarded Best Actor at the 2009 Venice Film Festival for his performance. He will also appear in Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol, a 3D motion-capture-animated version of the classic Dickens tale which stars Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman.
His film credits include Genova directed by Michael Winterbottom, Mamma Mia, Then She Found Me, And When Did You Last See Your Father, Easy Virtue, Girl With A Pearl Earring, Bridget Jones' Diary, Love Actually, The Importance of Being Earnest, Shakespeare In Love, The English Patient, Where the Truth Lies, Trauma, Apartment Zero, My Life So Far, Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, Circle of Friends and the title role in Milos Forman's
On the small screen, Firth is infamous for his breakout role in 1995, when he played Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor and was honored with the National Television Award for Most Popular Actor. In 2006 Firth appeared in the critically-acclaimed BBC television movie Born Equal. In March 2004, Firth hosted NBC's legendary series Saturday Night Live. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2001 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in the critically acclaimed HBO film Conspiracy and has also received the Royal Television Society Best Actor Award and a BAFTA nomination for his performance in Tumbledown. His other television credits include Windmills on the Clyde: Making Donovan Quick, Donovan Quick, The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd, Deep Blue Sea, Hostages, and the mini-series Nostromo.
Danny Boyle is an award winning director whose most recent project; Slumdog Millionaire received eight Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture at the 2009 Oscars. Boyle has been receiving honors from his debut film, Shallow Grave, which won the Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film at the BAFTAs, as well as Best Director at the San Sebastian Film Festival, The Empire Award for Best Director and Best British Film and the London Critics' Circle Film Award for Best British Newcomer.
Boyle's second feature, Trainspotting, is one of the highest grossing British films of all time. and won four Empire Awards including Best Director and Best Film and was nominated for a BAFTA Alexander Korda Award. In 2002 Boyle made the smash hit horror film 28 Days Later earning him a Saturn Award for Best Horror Film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Boyle's other feature films include Millions starring James Nesbit, Alex Etel and Lewis McGibbon, The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, A Life Less Ordinary, starring Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz, Alien Love Triangle and Sunshine starring Cillian Murphy.
Boyle's work in television includes producing Alan Clark's controversial Elephant, and directing Strumpet, Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise and the series Mr. Wroe's Virgins for which he received a BAFTA nomination. Boyle's career started in the theatre with Howard Barker's Victory, Howard Brenton's The Genius and Edward Bond's Saved, which won the Time Out Award. Boyle has also directed five productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
BAFTA/LA's outreach programs benefit members and other professionals working within the entertainment industry, as well as the Los Angeles community at large. BAFTA/LA provides exclusive access to screenings, Q&A's with talent and filmmakers, conversations with leading UK-based film and television executives, and the Heritage Archive, featuring broadcast-quality interviews with distinguished British members of the film and television industries. Educational outreach for students and the Los Angeles community includes an after-school screening program for inner-city youth at the Helen Keller Park Recreation Center, and a recent partnership with FilmAid to mentor young filmmakers. Additional programs include seminars in association with local universities and festivals, scholarships for post-graduate programs, and recognizing professional and student talent with awards at film festivals throughout the U.S.
Maintaining a long tradition of recognizing the finest filmmaking and television talent, BAFTA/LA hosts a series of social networking events, including the Annual BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards, the BAFTA Film Awards Brunch, the Annual Garden Party, the BAFTA/LA Comedy Awards, and the Awards Season Film and Television Tea Parties in January and September. BAFTA/LA is affiliated with BAFTA in London, and members vote annually for the prestigious BAFTA Film Awards. BAFTA/LA also presents its annual Britannia Awards every November, where it has honored such luminaries as Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine, and Martin Scorsese with the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film.
For more information on BAFTA/LA, visit baftala