REDDING, Calif.—North State residents have a good reason to tune in Sunday to the EE British Academy Film Awards: Shasta High School graduate Kathleen Kennedy will receive special recognition for her distinguished career as a film producer.
Kennedy, who lived in Redding from sixth grade through her graduation in 1971, will receive the Fellowship, the highest accolade given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) to individuals who have made an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television.
The awards show will air in the U.S. on BBC America and can also be watched on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from 4:30 to 11 p.m. GMT (or starting at 8:30 a.m. Sunday in California).
Kennedy, who visited Redding’s Cascade Theatre in 2008 and 2012 for Q&As after viewings of her films “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” and “Lincoln,” is one of the most respected and successful producers working in film today.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Fellowship from BAFTA, and am incredibly thankful to have worked with so many talented members of our extended family in the British filmmaking community,” Kennedy said in a news release.
After graduating from Shasta High School, Kennedy attended San Diego State University, where she majored in telecommunications and film. In her senior year, she worked at a local TV station, then moved to Los Angeles. Her first film production job was working as an assistant to screenwriter John Milius, who at the time was executive producer of Steve Spielberg’s “1941.” Kennedy met Spielberg through that, and a filmmaking partnership was born, culminating in the founding of Amblin Entertainment in 1982 with Kennedy, Spielberg, and Frank Marshall.
In 1992, Kennedy and then-husband Marshall started the Kennedy/Marshall Company, continuing her business relationship with Spielberg and producing multi-award-winning films including “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “The Bourne Identity” (2002), “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), and “The Adventures of Tintin” (2011).
In 2012, she stepped down to become co-chair of Lucasfilms Ltd. before becoming president.
During Kennedy’s 40-year career, her 70-plus feature films have received 119 BAFTA nominations (27 wins) and 125 Academy Award nominations (25 wins). In addition to the ones listed above, her films also include “E.T.: the Extra Terrestrial” (1982), “Gremlins” (1984), “Back to the Future” (1985), “The Color Purple” (1985), “Jurassic Park” (1993), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Men in Black” (1997), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), “Catch Me If You Can” (2002), “Munich” (2005), and “War Horse” (2011), among others.
She has worked with such directors as Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis, JJ Abrams, and M. Night Shyamalan.
In her current role, Kennedy oversees Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sounds. She was the producer of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), which broke the record for the largest domestic opening of all time that year, and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the No. 1-grossing film of 2016. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017) was the highest grossing film worldwide in 2017. She produced “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (released in December and still in theaters) and is executive-producing the first live action Star Wars series for Disney+, “The Mandalorian.”
BAFTA Chief Executive Amanda Berry said Kennedy’s contribution to filmmaking has been exceptional. “She is a trailblazer who has opened the door for many people to join the industry, and the number of iconic cinematic moments she has helped bring to the big screen has enriched the industry and enthralled the cinema-loving public.”
Marc Samuelson, Chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee, said: “Through all her productions in the UK, Kathleen Kennedy has led the industry in her commitment to encouraging training, inclusion and diversity at all levels of crew and cast. She has happily shouldered the responsibility which falls to these major productions and her personal impact on improving the range of superb, available, behind-the-camera talent is second to none.“
Kennedy will join other Fellows honored for their work that include Alfred Hitchcock, Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder, Ken Loach, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Helen Mirren, Sidney Poitier, Mel Brooks, Ridley Scott, and Thelma Schoonmaker.
Watch Kathleen Kennedy’s 2012 Q&A after the premiere of her film “Lincoln”:
-Information from BAFTA press release