Shake Up: Film Categories Go International

The Sixties had been a bittersweet time for British film; whilst feeling the loss of studios such as Ealing and London Films, and declining box office sales with the proliferation of television, it had also enjoyed huge success with the rise of the Carry On series and the birth of Bond.

By the end of the decade, the SFTA (as it was then), was experiencing change of its own, with a shake-up of its Film Awards categories. Ten of the 20 categories were for British films/talent only, which meant exceptional (mostly craft) talent from outside the UK couldn’t be recognised at all, let alone alongside their British peers. By removing the British criteria across these ten categories, the Film Awards could become globally representative, and in 1969 they did.

This new, inclusive approach saw immediate results: French actress Catherine Deneuve was nominated alongside Americans Katharine Hepburn, Anne Bancroft and Joanne Woodward; Czechoslovakian coming-of-age story Closely Observed Trains competed in the Best Film and Soundtrack categories alongside 2001: A Space Odyssey and Oliver!, and Swedish drama Elvira Madigan was nominated alongside three British films in Cinematography.

The Film Awards have continued as an international event since 1969, though the critical success of British films including Truly Madly Deeply, Life is Sweet and Howards End prompted the re-introduction of a British Film category in 1993, followed by a British Debut category in 1999.

Pic: French actress Catherine Deneuve was nominated for her performance in Belle De Jour in 1969 (Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock)

Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour

VIDEO: Watch Alfonso Cuarón and the team behind Mexican film ROMA celebrate their four wins, including Best Film,  backstage at the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2019.