Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar will deliver a message from the Ukrainian Film Academy during his speech at the star-studded ceremony as the awards return amid a backdrop of conflict.
Speaking ahead of this year’s 75th British Academy Film Awards – which sees Dune lead the pack with 11 nominations – Majumdar condemned the invasion of Russia, adding that the academy could not “shy away from world events”.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s really important for people to know that Bafta stand firmly and squarely with the people of Ukraine and we condemn the Russian invasion.
— BAFTA (@BAFTA) March 13, 2022
“We’ve reached out, we’re in contact with the Ukrainian Film Academy and other film academies across Europe.
“And they spoke to us and they wanted a message to be put out, it’s really important that western journalism continues to have fair and accurate reporting because people need to know the truth.
“Lots of the brave journalists are Bafta members as well, so we applaud them and we want that to continue.”
Director and Batman actor Andy Serkis reflected on how the arts help “hold humanity together” in troubling times.
Serkis, who is presenting the award for best direction, told PA: “It’s a difficult situation having a celebration like this when such horrendous, horrific things are happening not too far away from here.
“But I think it’s also important that arts are celebrated because arts do hold humanity together, and actually freedom of speech and the power of storytelling is something that I think Ukrainians would totally applaud.
“So if we hold them up tonight and reflect the enjoyment and the passion back to them, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”
Majumdar and Serkis were joined on the star-studded red carpet by Bafta nominees including Renate Reinsve, who features in the best actress category alongside Lady Gaga and Tessa Thompson.
Norwegian actress Reinsve, who is nominated for The Worst Person In The World, told PA: “Just to be here as a Norwegian and making this small Norwegian movie and that it’s blown up like this, it’s insane.
“You have so many cool productions that are represented here, I’m very proud to be a part of it this year.”
Sci-fi epic Dune and Jane Campion’s western The Power Of The Dog lead the nominations for this year’s film awards, which return in-person after a largely virtual ceremony in 2021.
Majumdar said the academy was so “relieved and excited” to be back at the Royal Albert Hall for the prize ceremony.
“It’s so great for people to be together to celebrate film.
“With the pandemic, you don’t know what’s going to happen week to week so there’s been a huge amount of planning.
— BAFTA (@BAFTA) March 13, 2022
“The Bafta team have been incredible to put this magnificent event on so it’s just really exciting to be back,” he added.
US actress Ann Dowd, who is nominated for best supporting actress award for her role in 2021 drama Mass, added that it was “lovely” to see everyone but surreal to be back.
She told PA: “Especially in London, to see everyone so happy. We were all saying that, all the Americans, how happy everyone looks in London.
“And they’re just out in the street and enjoying themselves, it’s lovely and London is so beautiful.”
Lady Gaga, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir Kenneth Branagh are among the stars in the running to win a Bafta during the ceremony on Sunday.
Sir Kenneth’s semi-autobiographical film Belfast, which focuses on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, has six nominations, including best film and a nod for star Ciaran Hinds in the best supporting actor category.
He told the PA news agency: “Bafta is very serious about their work, it’s also not just big successful things, they sometimes make very esoteric choices as well, very interesting choices, and the art of film is very important.
“So for Belfast to be included in that, which you have to say is a very small film, a small story (which) has resonated with so many people and has become, I would say, a very successful film.
“But it’s not an esoteric film, it’s very true to humanity, and how our hearts know.
“Some people have mentioned it might be a bit sentimental, but I don’t think it’s sentimental myself. I think it has sentiment but to me it’s not a sentimental film.”
US actor Troy Kotsur added that he was “thrilled” that the deaf community were getting more representation at the awards.
Kotsur, who is nominated in the best supporting actor category for Coda, gave a shout-out to the British deaf community, who he hopes will be watching the event on television.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s nice to see us be back together again and celebrate the spirit of filmmaking with so many talented artists from different backgrounds.
“And I’m seeing more and more diversity and now deaf people are a part of this diversity and inclusion. So of course, I’m thrilled that it means so much to me.”
A protest took place near the end of the red carpet, at which people chanted “just stop oil” and banged drums while surrounded by a barrier of police.
Bond actress Lashana Lynch and West Side Story star Ariana DeBose also feature as contenders to be named the next star of the future, having been nominated for a Bafta Rising Star award.
Hollywood actress Rebel Wilson is hosting the film awards at the Royal Albert Hall, alongside stars Daniel Kaluuya, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Tom Hiddleston who will be presenting at the ceremony.
The evening will also feature entertainment by Dame Shirley Bassey, performing a rendition of a Bond theme song to celebrate 60 years of the spy film franchise, and a video message from the Duke of Cambridge, who is the president of Bafta.
The EE British Academy Film Awards will air on BBC One at 7pm.