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National Film and Television School, Winners' acceptance speech, Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, EE British Academy Film Awards in 2018

18 February 2018

Winner's acceptance speech by Jon Wardle and Nick Powell on behalf of the National Film and Television School in the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema category.

JON WARDLE: Well, it's a tremendous honour to collect this award on behalf of all the students, staff, governors and graduates of the National Film and Television School. For almost five decades the NFTS has been at the forefront of developing film, television and now games makers who are not only highly valued members of the industry, widely in demand, but who also have the skills, talent and social conscience to lead it.

Our founding director, Colin Young, said he wanted a school dedicated to the idea that filmmakers should be missionaries for a better way of life. He imbued in our students not only a sense of purpose, but a spirit of confidence, of fearlessness, of risk-taking... and those qualities have been central to our school's ethos ever since. 

You can see those qualities in the work our students produce at the school, and you can see it in the work of the ten students and graduates nominated for BAFTAs tonight, from Roger Deakins for Blade Runner, to Stuart Wilson for Star Wars and Dario Marianelli for the Darkest Hour, through to more recent graduates, such as Emily Morgan, Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly and Paloma Baeza, who compete tonight in the Best Debut and Short Film categories.

At the NFTS, our goal is to ensure that the future Roger Deakins or Emily Morgan, wherever they may come from and whatever their means, have the opportunity and support to reach their full potential.

But we can't do that on our own, and we're therefore hugely indebted to those who, year in and year out, continue to support the school, including the DCMS, BFI, HEFCE, Creative Skillset, Channel 4, BBC, Sky, ITV, the Film Distributors Association, and the UK Cinema Association, as well as more than 80 annual scholarship donors, trusts and foundations. Thank you. We couldn't do it without you.

And thank you to Nick Powell, my predecessor, who I'm honoured to collect the award with tonight. Over the last 14 years, no one has done more than Nick to keep that spirit alive and to set a bar for success that we continue to strive to meet.

Thank you, BAFTA. This means a huge amount.

NICK POWELL: Thank you, Jon. Bar is the word.

The NFTS would not be where it is today without you, Jon. I would also like to thank our current chairman, Patrick McKenna, and Simon Chaps, his predecessor.

And finally I would like to personally thank Michael Kuhn and Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former chair and deputy chair of the NFTS, who started the transformation of the NFTS 15 years ago, by taking the risk of appointing someone who had left school at 16, myself, to have a go at running a postgraduate school like the NFTS. So thank you, Michael, thank you, Baz, thank you Patrick.

As the great Arsène Wenger - for those of you who don't know, he's the manager of the Arsenal invincibles team (not quite so invincible currently), but he said - and it's really at the core of what we do - the largest room in the world is the room for improvement. And I'm not referring to the current Arsenal team.

Well, at the NFTS we concern ourselves with that room for improvement.  And that improvement in our students' work is on display here, as Jon has mentioned, at the BAFTAs tonight. That's what makes me super proud of what the teachers, staff, students, graduates, of the NFTS has achieved.

So thank you, BAFTA. Thank you, Sarah, my girlfriend, and thank you, Arsène. Thank you.