Carol and Colette producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, co-founders of Number 9 Films, are to receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the 72nd BAFTAs on Sunday 10 February in London. Previous recipients of the prestigious BAFTA award include Mike Leigh, Kenneth Branagh, Ridley and Tony Scott, Working Title, John Hurt and BBC Films.
Producing duo Woolley and Karlsen are among the most prolific indie film producers working in the UK today. Woolley began his career in the mid-70s before owning and running iconic repertory cinema, the Scala. Alongside Nik Powell, he founded Palace Pictures, distributing more than 250 films from the likes of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach as well as international hits like Paris, Texas, When Harry Met Sally and The Evil Dead. On the production side, 1983 marked the beginning of his collaboration with Neil Jordan. The Company of Wolves was their first film together, which was nominated for four BAFTAs. Other films they produced include BAFTA-winner Interview With The Vampire, Michael Collins, Mona Lisa, The End Of The Affair and six-time Oscar nominee The Crying Game.
In her early career Karlsen worked on movies such as Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances and Richard Stanley’s Hardware. She went on to co-produce The Crying Game and The Pope Must Die before producing titles including Mark Herman’s BAFTA-winner Little Voice, starring Jane Horrocks and Michael Caine and Terence Davies’ The Neon Bible, starring Gena Rowlands, which played in Competition in Cannes.
Since its inception 15 years ago, Karlsen and Woolley have jointly produced a string of movies at Number 9 including HBO TV film Mrs Harris, Mike Newell’s Great Expectations, Made In Dagenham and Todd Haynes’ six-time Oscar nominee Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Coming up for the UK outfit is Toronto hit Colette, starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West while projects in development include writer Phyllis Nagy’s (Carol) directorial debut So Much Love, set to star Gemma Arterton as iconic soul singer Dusty Springfield; an adaptation of Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday by Alice Birch (Lady Macbeth); and The Assessor. They also have TV projects in the works including Portrait Of A Lady, adapted by Ida and Colette scribe Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and The Sea The Sea, an adaptation by Jemma Kennedy.
Marc Samuelson, Chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee said, “Elizabeth and Stephen are two of the UK’s leading producers whose contribution to the British film industry over the last four decades is outstanding. Their commitment to producing independent films in the UK which breaks down barriers and connects with audiences internationally is an inspiration to us all. The success they have enjoyed is testament to their passion and excellence in filmmaking and we’re delighted to award them the Outstanding British contribution to Cinema award.”
Woolley and Karlsen commented, “We are both extremely honoured to be given this prestigious award. Just to be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Balcon is special. We would like to thank BAFTA for recognising the importance of independent producers in the UK and thank everyone involved.”
The BAFTA nominations will be announced on January 9 at BAFTA HQ in London.