The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops, and promotes the art forms of the moving image (film, television, and games) in the United Kingdom. In addition to its annual awards ceremonies, BAFTA has an international program of learning events and initiatives offering access to talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures, and mentoring schemes in the United Kingdom and the United States.
BAFTA started out as the British Film Academy, founded in 1947 by a group of directors: David Lean, Alexander Korda, Roger Manvell, Laurence Olivier, Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell, Michael Balcon, Carol Reed, and other major figures of the British film industry.
David Lean was the founding chairman of the academy. The first Film Awards ceremony took place in May 1949, honoring the films The Best Years of Our Lives, Odd Man Out, and The World Is Rich.
The Guild of Television Producers and Directors was set up in 1953 with the first awards ceremony in October 1954, and in 1958 merged with the British Film Academy to form the Society of Film and Television Arts, whose inaugural meeting was held at Buckingham Palace and presided over by the Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1976, Queen Elizabeth, The Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Royal, and The Earl Mountbatten of Burma officially opened the organization's headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, London, and in March the society became the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.