Scene One: The British Film Academy is formed
In the years that followed the Second World War, British cinema enjoyed an extraordinary golden age. David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1945) and Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) were just two of the British films that delighted audiences and critics at home and internationally.

It was the perfect time to bring together the leading figures in the industry to promote and develop British film as an art form. The task fell to legendary producer/director Alexander Korda, whose The Private Lives of Henry VIII (1933) had been the first British film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, (with its star Charles Laughton being named Best Actor). Korda began work creating a British academy that would support the talent employed across the industry and build a greater appreciation of cinema up and down the nation. In 1947, the British Film Academy, as it was then known, was officially launched with the first meeting of its founder members – at which David Lean was appointed the first chair.

Image: 9 February 1949, an early meeting between the founding members of the Academy. Left to Right – Executive Secretary Judy Steele, Sir David Lean, Paul Rotha,  Michael Powell, Sir Anthony Asquith, Frank Launder, Thorold Dickinson (back to camera).

Founding members
BFI National Archive