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: One of the first meetings between the founding members of the Academy. Left to Right – Executive Secretary Judy Steele, Sir David Lean, Sir Michael Balcon, Michael Powell, Sir Anthony Asquith, Frank Launder, Thorold Dickinson (back to camera).