Express & Star

Christopher Nolan honoured with BFI Fellowship in front of Oppenheimer stars

He was celebrated for his contribution to film.

Christopher Nolan and wife Emma Thomas

Director Christopher Nolan said “this means the world to me” as he was presented with the British Film Institute (BFI) Fellowship by his Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy.

The honour was given to the British filmmaker, who is widely tipped to win an Oscar and a Bafta for his epic about J Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist described as the father of the atomic bomb, at the annual BFI chairman’s dinner.

He was handed the gong by Murphy, who plays the title role in Oppenheimer and who has been a collaborator for almost 20 years, appearing in the Dark Knight trilogy, Dunkirk and Inception.

Christopher Nolan receives BFI Fellowship – London
Cillian Murphy (James Manning/PA)

The fellowship recognises Nolan’s “extraordinary achievements and enormous contribution to cinema as one of the world’s most innovative and influential film directors”, the BFI said.

Accepting the prize, Nolan paid tribute to his wife and producer Emma Thomas, saying: “I was asked if in all of those years fighting to shoot on film, did you ever feel alone doing that?

“I was able to say I did not because my producer Emma Thomas always saw things the same way I did in terms of the importance of the medium.

Christopher Nolan receives BFI Fellowship – London
Christopher Nolan with Emma Thomas (James Manning/PA)

“So many people have helped me, so many people have been there for me, in so many different ways.

“I’m very moved to receive this, very moved by the presentation. This means the world to me.”

Murphy hailed Nolan’s films as “unique, boundary-pushing, singular, provocative, ambitious and unforgettable”, adding: “He is a one in a million, a true legend, one of the greatest directors in the world.

“It is a privilege of mine to know him, and to have worked with him so closely over the last 20 years. I have the utmost respect for him as an artist and a human being.”

Also in attendance at the event at the Rosewood Hotel in London were Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, actors Sir Kenneth Branagh and Sir Michael Caine, who have appeared in a string of Nolan’s films, Oppenheimer stars Josh Hartnett and Tom Conti and composer Hans Zimmer.

Christopher Nolan receives BFI Fellowship – London
Cillian Murphy (left) and Tom Conti (James Manning/PA)

BFI chairman Tim Richards said: “I’m delighted to be honouring and recognising British film director Christopher Nolan with a BFI Fellowship for his outstanding contribution to cinema.

“He is one of the greatest filmmakers of the 21st century, creating films that captivate audiences all over the world, generate billions at the box office and garner critical acclaim and awards.

“Christopher’s passion as a filmmaker is matched by his commitment to preserving celluloid through his involvement with The Film Foundation and his own support via the Morf Foundation for the BFI’s photochemical work.

“In doing so, current and future audiences will be able to continue to enjoy and learn from our incredibly rich history of cinema for many years to come.”

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