A TAUNTON film producer has been awarded an honour in the Queen's birthday list, published today.

Mike Downey, Chairman of the Board of the European Film Academy (EFA), has been appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his services to cinema.

Mr Downey, who grew up in Priorswood, also attended Huish's Grammar School. His siblings, Brian Downey and Anne Smith, still live in the town.

First elected to the EFA Board in 2004 representing the UK and Ireland, he successfully stood for election as Deputy Chairman in 2013, 2015 and 2017, subsequently taking over the chairmanship from director Agnieszka Holland in 2020.

“In the difficult times which we are all experiencing,” he said, “I’m delighted that my career as a European producer and as Chair of the European Film Academy is being recognised in this way.

"The United Kingdom is still very much a part of the European Film Academy film family, and I’d like to take this opportunity to reach out to our existing UK members and the UK industry, that participation is welcomed, encouraged and actively desired by your counterparts across the channel.”

Matthijs Wouter Knol, Director and CEO of the European Film Academy, said: “This royal distinction and career recognition for Mike Downey is truly an honour for the European Film Academy as well, to which his work has been so intrinsically linked throughout the past two decades.

"Mike's courage and decisiveness, his energy, and his eye for talent in various parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, has time and again brought people together.

"Even more importantly, Mike is one of those in our industry who use their experience and voice to advocate for the rights and safety of filmmakers world-wide, ensuring that an institution like the European Film Academy expands its impact and helps people who need it most.”

Along with producing partner Samantha Taylor, Mr Downey was the founder of Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) as part of an IPO on the Frankfurt DAX.
In 2016, Downey founded Film and Music Entertainment (IRE) to work in parallel with the UK entity. Its latest production, CHARLATAN by Agnieszka Holland, was shortlisted for this year’s US Academy Awards.

His work as a filmmaker has seen projects developed with novelists James Ellroy, the late Günter Grass, and Thomas (Schindler’s List) Keneally; IDA writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Vice Group founder and CEO Shane Smith, as well as directors like Volker Schlöndorff, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Lech Majewski, Peter Greenaway, Julien Temple, Paweł Pawlikowski, Andrzej Jakimowski, Rajko Grlić, Srđan Karanović, Juraj Jakubisko, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson, and Stephen Daldry; and writers of the ilk of Lee Hall, Colm Tóibín, and David Grossman.

Last year, he was part of the team that launched the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) at the Venice Film Festival.

The ICFR aims to activate the film community’s collective response to filmmakers who face political persecution for their work.

Currently a member of the BAFTA Council having previously served two terms and in 2008 he was a member of the BAFTA Film Committee and an active member of the Asia Pacific Screen Academy.