Kathleen Kennedy receiving prestigious BAFTA Fellowship

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Kathleen Kennedy

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, who has producer of dozens of critically and commercially successful films, will receive prestigious BAFTA fellowship next month.

It is the highest award bestowed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, given to an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television, according to a news release.

“British filmmaking has always played a significant role in both my life and career. The boundless creative vision of artists such as Tom Stoppard, David Lean, Chris Nolan, Stephen Daldry and Peter Morgan continues to inspire me,” Kennedy said in a statement. “The recent ‘Star Wars’ movies – all shot on sound stages and locations across the UK – are just the latest opportunities that I’ve had the privilege to work with British crews and filmmakers, which began in 1980 with ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and continued with ‘Temple of Doom,’ ‘Empire of the Sun,’ ‘Young Sherlock Holmes,’ ‘War Horse,’ ‘The Adventures of Tintin,’ and others. I am deeply honored to receive the Fellowship from BAFTA, and am incredibly thankful to have worked with so many talented members of our extended family in the British filmmaking community.”

Kennedy will be honored with the fellowship at BAFTA’s annual Film Awards on Feb. 2 at at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

“Through all her productions in the UK, Kathleen Kennedy has led the industry in her commitment to encouraging training, inclusion and diversity at all levels of crew and cast. She has happily shouldered the responsibility which falls to these major productions and her personal impact on improving the range of superb, available, behind-the-camera talent is second to none,” Marc Samuelson, chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee, said in a statement.

Fellows previously honored for their work in film include Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder, Ken Loach, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Helen Mirren, Sidney Poitier, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott. Thelma Schoonmaker received the Fellowship at the 2019 British Academy Film Awards, according to a new release.

“I’m delighted that we are recognising Kathleen Kennedy’s impressive career with a BAFTA Fellowship. Her contribution to filmmaking has been exceptional. She is a trailblazer who has opened the door for many people to join the industry, and the number of iconic cinematic moments she has helped bring to the big screen has enriched the industry and enthralled the cinema–loving public,” Amanda Berry, chief executive of BAFTA, said in a statement.

One of the most successful and respected producers working in film today, Kennedy’s career has spanned 40 years with more than 70 feature films to her name, which have collectively garnered 119 BAFTA nominations and 27 wins as well as 25 Academy Awards from 125 nominations.

Kennedy has worked with legendary directors including Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis, JJ Abrams, Julian Schnabel, Marjane Satrapi, M.Night Shyamalan, Frank Oz, Peter Bogdanovich and Richard Donner.

Born in Berkeley, California, Kennedy attended San Diego State University, where she majored in telecommunications and film. In her final year, Kennedy gained employment at a local San Diego TV station, taking on various roles before becoming a news production coordinator and later moving to Los Angeles. Kennedy secured her first film production job working as an assistant to screenwriter John Milius, who at the time was executive producer of Steven Spielberg’s “1941.”

The introduction to Spielberg marks the beginning of an illustrious filmmaking partnership, which culminated in Kennedy co-founding the production company Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and Frank Marshall.

Amblin Entertainment went on to produce some of the most iconic, cherished and celebrated films of the last three decades, including “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “Gremlins” (1984), “The Goonies” (1985), “Back to the Future” (1985), “Batteries Not Included” (1987), “The Land Before Time” (1988), “Hook” (1991), “Jurassic Park” (1993), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Men in Black” (1997), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), “Catch Me If You Can” (2002), “Munich” (2005) and “War Horse” (2011).

In 1992, Kennedy co-founded and headed The Kennedy/Marshall Company with Marshall, her husband, while continuing her business relationship with Spielberg, producing award-winning films including “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “The Bourne Identity” (2002), “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (2007), “Persepolis” (2007), “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) and “The Adventures of Tintin” (2011).

In 2012, Kennedy stepped down from Kennedy/Marshall to become co-chair of Lucasfilm Ltd. before becoming its president.

As President of Lucasfilm, Kennedy oversees the company’s three divisions: Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. She was the producer of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), which broke the record for the biggest domestic opening of all time that year, and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the highest grossing film in 2016. She went on to produce “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017), the top-grossing film worldwide in 2017, as well as “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (2018). Kennedy is currently producer of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019) and executive producer of the live-action “Star Wars” Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” (2019).

Kennedy recently received the distinguished CBE award (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and was elected chair of the AFI Board of Trustees. Aside from her executive and producer roles, she was one of the founding council members of Hollywood Commission to Eliminate Sexual Harassment and Advance Equality and is currently on the board of the LA Promise Fund, Library of America and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

This year’s BAFTA Awards ceremony will be hosted by Graham Norton and will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One, BBC One HD and BBC iPlayer.


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