Tilda Swinton to receive prestigious BFI Fellowship

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Tilda Swinton is to be honoured with the British Film Institute’s most prestigious accolade, the BFI Fellowship.

It will be awarded for the Oscar-winner’s “daringly eclectic and striking talents as a performer and film-maker” and in recognition of her “great contribution to film culture, independent film exhibition and philanthropy.”

She will receive the honour at the BFI chairman’s annual dinner in March and her work will also be celebrated with a Tilda Swinton season at BFI Southbank  in London throughout the month.

The season, which runs from March 1-18, has been curated in collaboration with Swinton and features her work and her inspirations.

Swinton said: “Fellowship and BFI are two of my favourite words. And the beginning and end of the reason I live my life in the cinema in the first place.

“I am very happy and touched by this honour. And I share it entirely with my beloved film-making playmates, living and departed.”

BFI chairman Josh Berger said: “I am delighted that Tilda has accepted the BFI Fellowship.

“Tilda is enjoying the broadest of careers, stretching from her earliest acclaimed work with Derek Jarman through to her dazzling involvement in the Marvel cinematic universe.

“It is a career full of courageous artistic choices that has earned her the deep respect of her peers, our industry and the admiration and enjoyment of audiences all over the world.”

He added: “Tilda inhabits the characters she portrays in the most compelling way.

“Her work is powerful and far-ranging and as such occupies a unique place in our collective film history – it captivates young film-makers and actors, inspiring them to make bolder, braver and more profound work.”

Tilda Swinton won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the 2007 film Michael Clayton (Ian West/PA)

Swinton, 59, was hailed by the BFI for her “risk-taking, unconventional career”, in which she has won critical acclaim for roles in films including We Need to Talk About Kevin, Vanilla Sky, Constantine, Julia, The Chronicles of Narnia series and in the Marvel cinematic universe as the Ancient One.

She won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in 2007’s legal thriller Michael Clayton.

Swinton, born Katherina Matilda Swinton in 1960 in London, started her acting career after graduating from the University of Cambridge with a degree in social and political sciences.

She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984 and appeared in Measure For Measure before going on to star in her first film, Caravaggio, in 1986 alongside Sean Bean.

The actress went on to work with director Jarman several times throughout her early career on low-budget art-house films including The Last Of England, War Requiem alongside Laurence Olivier, Edward II and Wittgenstein.

Swinton, known for championing both independent films and Hollywood blockbusters, has also starred in films including Orlando, an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando: A Biography, The Beach, Burn After Reading, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

In addition to her Oscar award, she has also won a Bafta film award and an Independent Spirit Award.

Swinton follows in the footsteps of the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Hugh Grant, Al Pacino, Tim Burton, Cate Blanchett, Martin Scorsese and Vanessa Redgrave in receiving the honour.

Olivia Colman was the latest recipient of the Fellowship in 2019.

The BFI’s Tilda Swinton season will celebrate the “extraordinary, convention-defying career of one of cinema’s finest and most deft chameleons”.

It will include feature film screenings, shorts and personal favourites, as well as an in conversation event with the actress on March 3.