BAFTAs 2023: Why queer director Charlotte Wells’ acceptance speech has won viewers’ hearts

Charlotte Wells accepts BAFTA for the Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer award.

Queer director Charlotte Wells won both a coveted award and the hearts of viewers at the 2023 BAFTA Film Awards.

The 35-year-old rising star was hotly tipped to win the award for outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer at the BAFTAs for her devastating coming-of-age drama Aftersun – and there was barely a dry eye in the house when she emerged triumphant.

Balancing emotion, gratitude and humour, Wells’ acceptance speech was easily one of the best of the night as she made the audience laugh and well up at the same time.

As she took the stage, her first gag presented itself naturally as she tripped while walking up the stairs. “That step is real,” she said, already winning a chuckle from the stars in the room.

She continued by thanking the BAFTAs, TV networks and team who got the film into cinemas, as well as the cast, which includes Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio, and Celia Rowlson-Hall. It was her tribute to the crew, though, that brought on the tears.

“A special thank you to our Turkish crew. Most of our crew was Turkish. I don’t think anybody in that country has been untouched by the earthquake that has affected so much of Turkey and Syria,” she said, referring to the tragic earthquakes that hit the countries earlier this month. So far, 45,000 lives have been lost in the disaster.

You may like to watch

Charlotte Wells with her BAFTA for Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer.
Charlotte Wells directed the critically-acclaimed Aftersun.

Evidently emotional, Wells went on to reflect on the film’s touching testament to father-daughter relationships, discussing how it relates to her own life.

“I read online that somebody described this film as a eulogy and I suppose it is of sorts, a eulogy to my dad,” Wells said, whose father died when she was a teenager.

“By definition, he’s not here, but my mum is and she always has been. So this is for you.”

It was heart-wrenching moment, but Wells, evidently already a Hollywood pro, knew to round it off with a bit of humour, adding: “Literally, because I overpacked.”

Cue the evening’s loudest laugh from the star-studded audience.

Many Aftersun fans are heaping praise on Wells, saying the win is more than deserved.

Aftersun is not only the best in that category for this year but it’s one of the best debuts of ALL TIME,” wrote on fan, while another claimed it as the “best film” about loss that they had ever seen.

Click here to join our new PinkNews Alerts WhatsApp group for daily digests of our top LGBTQ+ news and features.