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Filmmaker Alan Parker to receive top British film accolade

British film director Sir Alan Parker looks on during a press conference in Sofia, March 18, 2006. REUTERS/Nikolay Doychinov
British film director Sir Alan Parker looks on during a press conference in Sofia, March 18, 2006. REUTERS/Nikolay Doychinov

LONDON (Reuters) - Filmmaker Alan Parker will receive one of the highest accolades in the British film industry next month to mark a career of writing, directing and producing that spans over 40 years.

Parker, 68, will be presented with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) fellowship on February 10 at the BAFTA awards, Britain's annual version of the Oscars, to recognize "outstanding and exceptional contribution to film".

Parker, whose film credits include "Midnight Express", "Mississippi Burning" and "Evita", follows in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and Laurence Olivier in receiving the honor. U.S. filmmaker Martin Scorsese received the BAFTA Fellowship last year.

Parker, who was nominated twice for the best director award at the Oscars and knighted in 2002 for services to British film, said he was "enormously flattered" to receive the Fellowship, the highest accolade the BAFTA can give an individual.

"When you make your first film, you're sure it will be your last. And then you squeeze your eyes together and suddenly, forty years later, you're at BAFTA getting an award like this," Parker said in a statement.

As well as his directing and writing credits, Parker has served as chairman of the British Film Institute board, was the founding chairman of the UK Film Council and a founding member of the Directors Guild of Great Britain.

Parker, a Londoner, started his career writing and directing TV commercials.

His first feature film as writer and director was the musical gangster film "Bugsy Malone" in 1976 with a cast all of children including Jodie Foster. This helped him break into Hollywood and he went on to make a string of popular box-office movies.

He was nominated for best director at the Oscars in 1979 for "Midnight Express", the Turkish-set prison drama, and in 1988 for "Mississippi Burning" about the murder of three civil rights workers in the U.S. state of Mississippi.

Other works include "The Commitments", "Shoot The Moon", "Angela's Ashes" and "The Life of David Gale".

Parker's films have won 19 BAFTAs as well as 10 Golden Globes and 10 Oscars, according to a statement from the BAFTA.

John Willis, chairman of the BAFTA, described Parker as a "hugely distinctive filmmaker, and a man of uncompromising vision and personality".

"He has made an immense contribution to the British film industry, receiving a wide range of critical and public acclaim for his writing, producing and directing across almost 40 years of filmmaking," Willis said in a statement.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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