In the early years of the Academy, a string of foreign language films were nominated for the Best Film prize – but in the course of the 1960s and 1970s, the category became dominated by English language films. Eventually, in 1983, the Academy responded by introducing a specific category to recognise films not made in English, with the first winner being director Francesco Rosi’s Christ Stopped At Eboli.
The category was originally named Foreign Language Film, but since 1990 has been called Film Not in the English Language, a title which includes films made in other UK native languages, such as Welsh. A special chapter within BAFTA’s membership now votes for the award, in recognition of the particular skillset and depth of knowledge that foreign language filmmaking deserves. Celebrating a form that can struggle for attention in British culture, the award is a statement of the Academy’s values – recognising the importance of global cinema and film as an art form that was always truly international.
Image: Clockwise from left - Director Guiseppe Tornatore, composer Andrea Morricone and actor Salvatore Cascio, some of the winning team behind nostalgic Italian drama Cinema Paradiso, which took the Film Not in the English Language prize in 1991 as well as Original Screenplay, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role and Original Film Score.