LONDON — The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will bestow on Sidney Poitier its highest honor, the Fellowship, at the BAFTA Film Awards on Feb. 14. The Fellowship, which is awarded annually, is given to an individual in recognition of “an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.”
Previous recipient of the honor include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench and Martin Scorsese. Mike Leigh received the Fellowship at last year’s film awards.
Amanda Berry, chief executive of BAFTA, said: “Sidney is a luminary of film whose outstanding talent in front of the camera, and important work in other fields, has made him one of the most important figures of his generation. His determination to pursue his dreams is an inspirational story for young people starting out in the industry today. By recognising Sidney with the Fellowship at the film awards on Sunday 14 February, BAFTA will be honoring one of cinema’s true greats.”
Poitier said: “I am extremely honored to have been chosen to receive the Fellowship and I would like to express my deep appreciation to the British Academy for the recognition.”
Poitier began his acting career on Broadway in the 1940s before moving into film in 1950, receiving his first credit as Dr Luther Brooks in “No Way Out.” He was the first African-American to play a wide range of leading roles; he was BAFTA-nominated for his performances in “Edge of the City,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lilies of the Field” (for which he was the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1964), “A Patch of Blue,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “The Defiant Ones,” for which he won a BAFTA and was nominated for an Oscar in 1959.
His other acting credits include “Blackboard Jungle,” “To Sir With Love,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Sneakers,” “The Jackal” and “Porgy and Bess.” Poitier was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2002 “for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence.” Poitier has also been nominated for seven Golden Globes, winning once, and was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1982.