This week in history 24th February – 2nd March

This 1920's black and white image shows a middle aged man in tails looks apprehensively at a smiling young woman.

The Academy Awards on February 26, 1942 were a different affair. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour the previous December, the Academy wanted to show support for the war effort. The guests at the Biltmore Hotel that evening all paid to attend and proceeds went to the Red Cross.

Guests were also asked not to wear formal dress and the statuette that year (and all following until the end of the war) was made of plaster as the government needed all the metal for the war effort. The 14th Academy Award winner for Best picture that year was John Fords How Green Was My Valley, and the first award for a documentary was given to Churchill’s Island. 

In March 1926 Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden was shown to British Press. At the time, Alfred Hitchcock was a promising art director and writer. Critics were shocked by the film; journalist Cedric Belfrage who wrote for Picturegoer wrote that “Hitchcock has such a complete grasp of all the different branches of film technique that the is able to take far more control of his production than the average director of four times his experience”.

During shooting of The Pleasure Garden, cinematographer Gaetano di Ventimi hid the camera underneath Hitchcock’s bunk as they wanted to avoid Italian duties. When it was found the unexposed film was confiscated and the crew had to buy new film to shoot on location, increasing the films budget. The confiscated film was returned later. Hitchcock became engaged to Alma Reville while filming.

The British Academy Film Awards 2014

A young blonde woman places signs with showing BAFTA nominees in the red seats at the Royal Opera House

A young blonde woman places signs with showing BAFTA nominees in the red seats at the Royal Opera HouseOrganising the seating arrangements for this years ceremony. Image via

This weekend we celebrate the 67th British Academy Film Awards. We mentioned the BAFTA’s when we took a short look at the upcoming film season in our post, Tis the season post back in December.

This year’s ceremony takes place at the Royal Opera House in London (as it has since 2008) on Sunday at 9pm. It will be broadcast in Britain on BBC One and BBC One HD and we will be liveblogging the event as it happens from 8pm. Make sure you check our liveblog and our Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with the news, award winners and any blunders as they happen (Miss Lawrence, we’re looking at you).

The films nominated for Best Film are 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity and Philomena. Gravity is the most nominated film, up for a total of 11, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave are nominated for 10 awards each.

The nominees, performers and presenters will walk down 131 yards of red carpet. Performing on the night are Tinie Tempah and Laura Mvula, who will open the awards with a performance of Heroes. Stephen Fry will be hosting the event for the ninth time.

Up for Best Actor are Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a SlaveTom Hanks for Captain Phillips and Leonardo DiCaprio for Wolf of Wall Street.  It’s a well-known face that Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar. He’s also never won a Bafta and has only been nominated twice previously for The Aviator and The Departed.

For Best Actress the nominations are Amy Adams for American Hustle, Sandra Bullock for Gravity, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Emma Thompson for Saving Mr Banks and Judi Dench for Philomena. Judi Dench is the most BAFTA nominated actress in Film with 15 nominations and 6 wins.

Another highly nominated actor is Woody Allen who has accumulated 24 BAFTA nominations and an impressive 10 wins throughout his career. This year he is nominated for Original Screenplay for Blue Jasmine.

Since 1971 a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award has been presented to one outstanding achiever. The lifetime award is the highest honour bestowed by the Academy. The first winner was Alfred Hitchcock, last year it was awarded to Michael Palin. This year it will be presented to Dame Helen Mirren.

Mirren has one four previous BAFTA awards since she began acting in the 1970’s. Three of these are for her role as Jane Tennison in the ITV drama Prime Suspect and one was awarded for her role as Elizabeth II in The Queen. Elizabeth II is not the only Queen she has portrayed, Mirren has played five other Queens including Elizabeth I in The Queen and The Snow Queen in The Snow Queen.

Remember to join us from 8pm for coverage of the evening.