LONDON — On the list of top anglophiles, Harvey and Bob Weinstein may not immediately leap to mind.
But the brothers’ lengthy track record in British films, from “Secret Policeman’s Other Ball,” through “Iris” and beyond, certainly factored into the British Film Institute’s decision to award them a fellowship. The honor was bestowed at a gala Saturday night celebrating the 50th birthday of the U.K.’s National Film Theater on the South Bank.
Gwyneth Paltrow, making her first public appearance since the death of her father Oct. 2, presented the solid silver oval plaque — fashioned entirely from metal retrieved from old silver nitrate film stock — to Harvey Weinstein. He apologized for the absence of his brother Bob, who was detained in New York on a more pressing engagement — his wife was giving birth.
Another fellowship — the BFI’s highest honor — was awarded to Jack Cardiff, the legendary cinematographer behind such movies as “A Matter of Life and Death,” “Black Narcissus” and “The African Queen.” It was presented by actress Susannah York and UIP chairman Paul Oneile.
The black-tie event — two hours of speeches at the NFT, followed by dinner at the Savoy Hotel just across the river — was attended by a crowd of Brit film luminaries, including Sir Alan Parker, Stephen Frears, John Madden, Michael Winterbottom, Jim Broadbent, Rhys Ifans and local industry toppers.
Lord Attenborough — who 50 years ago attended the premiere of “The Magic Box” at the NFT — was also on hand, in his role as chairman of the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, to present the theater with a BAFTA award.
As well as screening a reel of past Miramax movies, Weinstein showed a scene from “Gangs of New York,” and one from “Chicago.”
As for the fellowship, he said, “We looked at the list of past honorees, and said they must have made a mistake here tonight.” He spoke about his close and longstanding relationship with the British film industry, dating back to Miramax’s acquisition of comedy concert movie “The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball.”
He told stories of exec producing “Scandal,” and of a recent Valentine’s Day party thrown in his honor by Dame Judi Dench at New York’s Four Seasons hotel, which ended with Dench dropping her trousers to reveal the words “I love Harvey Weinstein” emblazoned across her buttocks.