The acclaimed writer-director will receive the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film at the UK film critics’ special 40th anniversary ceremony on 30th January.

The UK’s leading film critics today announced that Sally Potter will receive their top honour, the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film, at the 40th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards presented by Pearl Pictures Productions on 30th January at the May Fair Hotel.

In response, Potter said: “To be honoured by critics is an exceptional joy. To be honoured in Dilys Powell’s name is to be blessed by a legend, someone whose love for the films that she wrote about so fluently was held by an archaeological knowledge of the history of cinema. I met her just once, when I was starting out as a filmmaker. Her critical gaze and precise language was uncompromising but respectful and therefore encouraging, which is all anyone ever needs. It is very moving to imagine those beady eyes looking at me again several decades later.”

London-born Sally Potter OBE made her first 8mm short film at age 14, and then in 1983 wrote and directed her first feature The Gold Diggers, starring Julie Christie. Her breakthrough film was the 1992 Oscar-nominated drama Orlando, based on the Virginia Woolf novel and starring Tilda Swinton in her breakout role. Subsequent award-winning features include the Bafta-nominated The Tango Lesson (1997) in which she starred as a filmmaker named Sally, The Man Who Cried (2000) with Cate Blanchett and Johnny Depp, the poetic Yes (2004) with Joan Allen, the colourfully experimental Rage (2009) with an all-star cast led by Judi Dench, Ginger & Rosa (2012) with Elle Fanning and Alice Englert, and the blistering political comedy The Party (2017) with Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall and Patricia Clarkson.

Known for her bold approach to filmmaking, Potter has had a major impact on the industry by crushing stereotypes, discovering new stars, refusing to shy away from provocative material and taking risks with genres. With a background in choreography, she has also directed opera, including Bizet’s Carmen for ENO (2007). Her book Naked Cinema: Working With Actors was published in 2014. She has recently completed production on her latest film starring Elle Fanning and Javier Bardem. The story recounts a turbulent 24 hours in the life of a father and daughter.

As this year marks the awards’ 40th anniversary, the Critics’ Circle will give out multiple special honours at their gala ceremony, in addition to the regular line-up of awards in various international and British/Irish categories. A full list of nominations and special awards will be announced on 17th December at The May Fair Hotel by British actors Jenn Murray and John Dagleish.

The 40th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards presented by Pearl Pictures Productions will be held on Thursday 30th January at the May Fair Hotel, part of the Edwardian Hotels London group. The red carpet event is also sponsored by the May Fair Hotel and Rémy Martin.

Image © Gerhard Kassner

The Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film:
1991 Dirk Bogarde
1992 Freddie Young
1993 Christopher Lee
1994 Richard Attenborough
1995 Wendy Hiller
1996 John Mills
1997 Michael Caine
1998 John Hurt and Albert Finney
1999 Mike Leigh
2000 Richard Harris
2001 Charlotte Rampling
2002 Lewis Gilbert
2003 Tom Courtenay
2004 Ken Loach
2005 Bryan Forbes
2006 Leslie Phillips
2007 Julie Walters
2008 Judi Dench
2009 Quentin Tarantino
2010 Kristin Scott Thomas
2011 Nicolas Roeg
2012 Helena Bonham Carter
2013 Gary Oldman
2014 Miranda Richardson
2015 Kenneth Branagh
2016 Isabelle Huppert
2017 Kate Winslet
2018 Pedro Almodovar