David is President of the Film Distributors’ Association
David Puttnam is the chair of Atticus Education, an online education company based in Ireland. Atticus, through a unique arrangement with BT Ireland, delivers interactive seminars on film and a variety of other subjects to educational institutions around the world.
David spent thirty years as an independent producer of award-winning films including The Mission, The Killing Fields, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone and Memphis Belle. His films have won ten Oscars, 25 Baftas and the Palme D'Or at Cannes. From 1994 to 2004 he was Vice President and Chair of Trustees at the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) and was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship in 2006.
He retired from film production in 1998 to focus on his work in public policy as it relates to education, the environment, and the creative and communications industries. In 1998 he founded the National Teaching
Awards, which he chaired until 2008, also serving as the first Chair of the General Teaching Council from 2000 to 2002. From July 2002 to July 2009 he was president of UNICEF UK, engaging with issues as diverse as water security and child trafficking.
In October 2013 David stepped down as Chancellor of the Open University a post he was appointed to in 2006, following ten years as Chancellor of The University of Sunderland.
He was also a Founding Chairman of the National Memorial Arboretum from 1993 to 2003.
David is the Republic of Ireland's Digital Champion; President of the Film Distributors’ Association; Chair of the TSL Advisory Board; Chair of the Academic Board, Pearson College; a UNICEF Ambassador, and Adjunct Professor of Film Studies and Digital Humanities at University College Cork.
He was Deputy Chairman of Channel 4 Television (2006 - 2012) and The Sage Gateshead (2007- 2012), founding Chair of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and Chair of both the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television and the National Film and Television School for ten years. He has also served as a trustee of the Tate Gallery, the Science Museum, the Thomson Foundation and a great number of other organisations.
In 2007 he was appointed Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill, having performed the same role on the 2002 Communications Bill.
He has been Chairman of two Hansard Society Commission Reports on the relationship between Parliament and the Public and has served as a non-executive director on a number of public companies.
David was awarded a CBE in 1982, a knighthood in 1995, and was appointed to the House of Lords in 1997. In France he was made a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1985, becoming an Officer in 1992, and a Commander in 2006. He has been the recipient of more than 40 honorary degrees from Universities in the UK and overseas.
In 2012 he was appointed the UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
In 2016 he was appointed as International Ambassador for WWF.