1949

Golden Envelope: The first Awards ceremony takes place
For many people, BAFTA will always be known best for its award ceremonies. The first Film Awards were designed to celebrate and encourage excellence in film, and while originally they were of most interest within the industry, they soon developed a profile as the public face of the busy and globally renowned organisation we know today.

The first awards ceremony of the British Film Academy took place on 29 May 1949 at what is now the Odeon Leicester Square, its host, the producer Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios in their iconic heyday. Five awards were given out for films from both 1947 and 1948. Fittingly, the first acceptance speech was given on behalf of all the recipients by Laurence Olivier, who also received the award for Best Film From Any Source for his Hamlet. 

Image: Audrey Hepburn attending the British Film Academy Awards ceremony in 1955, where she was a British Actress nominee for Sabrina Fair.



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BAFTA Archive

Video: Newsreel footage of the first ever British Film Academy Awards, held together with the American Academy of Motion Pictures Awards at the Odeon, Leicester Square in 1949 (Source: BBC copyright material reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation).