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Krishnendu Majumdar, Chair of BAFTA, Opening Speech Film Awards 2022

13 March 2022

KRISHNENDU MAJUMDAR: Good evening and welcome to the EE British Academy Film Awards.

Tonight’s Awards promise to be a celebration of the very best in film, with our new host, the incredible Rebel Wilson.

But I want to begin with a message of support on behalf of BAFTA, for the people of Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shocked the world, with images and stories detailing a truly horrific and heartbreaking situation.

Together with our colleagues at the Ukrainian Film Academy and with our fellow academies across Europe, we stand in solidarity with those who are bravely fighting for their country, and we share their hope for a return to peace.

We’re hugely grateful to the journalists and filmmakers covering Ukraine, many of whom are BAFTA members. They're bravely reporting and documenting the conflict and the humanitarian crisis.

If you want to make a donation to support the relief effort, we encourage you to respond to the appeal from the Disasters Emergency Committee. It supports those who are fleeing conflict and who urgently need our help.

Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, as well as those affected by the many other conflicts around the world at this time.

Onto this special evening. I’m glad to see you all back in person at the Royal Albert Hall, and that we’re joined by so many of the world’s most talented people in film. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be here today, as my wife is expecting our first baby. And due date is today. Would you be believe it? So if you see me rushing off mid ceremony - you know the baby’s on the way!

BAFTA is an arts charity, and through our Awards we recognise and celebrate creative excellence in film, games and television. We aim to inspire the next generation of talented people, no matter who they are or where they come from. We provide support, mentorship and opportunities to help them on their journey.

This is a very special year for BAFTA – our 75th! It’s a pivotal moment in BAFTA’s history, as we continue to invest in a future that will benefit our industries and for anyone who loves film.

We’ve already made sweeping changes across our whole organisation – to our voting, membership and campaigning processes. We did this to level the playing field for entries, so that more films and the real range of exceptional talent could be considered on an equal footing.

The fruits of these efforts are evident in this year's outstanding nominations, and I’m thrilled that tonight we are shining a light on so many first-time nominees.

For too long our industry has been closed off to some people. My father arrived here on a boat from India in the 1960s to work for the National Health Service. Growing up in valleys of South Wales, we didn’t know anyone who worked in film or tv and there wasn’t anyone who looked like me on screen.

We’re changing that.

We want everyone watching at home to feel that the creative industries are for them too. At this defining hour of BAFTA’s 75th anniversary – change has come.

Tonight’s awards have been decided by BAFTA voting members, over 7,000 of the industry’s leading experts in their fields. And the EE Rising Star Award is the only award chosen by the public. It honours an emerging performer with exceptional talent. I can’t wait to see who has won that.

My thanks to all our official partners, especially our sponsor EE, who’ve been with us for incredible 25 years. As well as the BBC, Whizz Kid Entertainment and Freuds, and to the brilliant BAFTA team led by Amanda Berry and Kevin Price and to our president, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, who supports us in everything we do.

Huge congratulations to every nominee on your achievements, and for the inspirational work you share with the world – tonight is your night.

Enjoy the show.