On Saturday 14 October the acclaimed director and former Directors UK President Paul Greengrass was awarded a BFI Fellowship – the BFI’s highest accolade – at a special London Film Festival event at Banqueting House.
The award stands as testament not just to Paul’s achievements as a filmmaker, but to his impact on the industry as a whole. Upon presenting Paul with his fellowship Josh Berger CBE, Chair of the BFI, said: “Nobody demonstrates the vibrancy and creative spirit of British filmmaking better than tonight's BFI Fellowship Honouree, Paul Greengrass.” Over a forty year career, Paul has won a Golden Bear (Bloody Sunday), a BAFTA (The Murder of Stephen Lawrence) and has been nominated for an Oscar (United 93) among many more accolades.
But it’s not just his own filmmaking achievements that make Paul such a worthy recipient. He has long been a champion of the rights of filmmakers, with a keen eye on the workings of the industry at large. Indeed, in his own acceptance speech on the weekend, he made a point of addressing the ongoing shortcomings with regards to representation in British film: “Diversity is a profound challenge and we have to do much better including addressing our lack of women directors as a matter of urgency.”
Paul was instrumental in the founding of Directors UK. A little over ten years ago, Paul was a member of the ‘Century Group’ – a collection of leading film and television directors who assembled at the Century Club in London to discuss how they could improve status, pay and working conditions for directors. Over a near two-year period from 2006, the Century Group worked with DPRS (Directors and Producers Rights Society) on developing a new organisation to represent directors – and so Directors UK was born in 2007, with Paul Greengrass as President.
As our President, Paul oversaw the growth of Directors UK from a collecting society to a multi-faceted organisation that campaigns for change in the industry as well as putting on a wide range of events, services and benefits for directors. He has been an important advocate for diversity and contributed with Directors UK to the Lord Chris Smith review of Film Policy. After a successful tenure, he stepped down as Directors UK President in 2014.
Having reaped the benefits of Paul’s passion and commitment, we can think of no one more deserving of the 2017 BFI Fellowship. In the meantime we hope that Directors UK members will join us in congratulating Paul on another fantastic achievement.