LOCALLY-funded films are up for a clutch of awards this weekend at the British Independent Film Awards.
Helping to fly the flag for the North East at Sunday’s prestigious awards night in London are nominations for three films funded or produced by the region.
They include a best actor and a best supporting actress nomination for Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave for their roles in Song for Marion, the feature film – which is also up for best screenplay – awarded £150,000 from a creative content fund set up by Northern Film & Media (NFM) and local venture capital firm Northstar.
Co-starring Gemma Arterton and Christopher Eccleston and shot in Newcastle and Durham last summer with the help of local extras, the upbeat story of a grumpy pensioner persuaded by his wife to join a community choir had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September, and it has already been tipped as a possible Oscar winner.
Another film to premiere at the film festival in Canada and vying for attention at Sunday’s awards will be Quartet, produced by Newcastle-based Headline Pictures and marking Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut.
It brings Billy Connolly a best supporting actor nomination for his role alongside Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins in the story of four opera singers in a residential home for retired musicians. Ahead of its January release in the UK, there’ll be a local screening on Tuesday at Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle.
The third nominated film is dark drama Frank, made with NFM funding and a North East cast, with Philip Shotton, one of its two producers, coming from Whitley Bay.
Filmed in Newcastle and Hartlepool, the bleak story of a man without any meaning in life is up for The Raindance Award, which honours achievement by filmmakers working against the odds or with limited resources.
Dan Brain, NFM’s communications manager, said: “The nominations demonstrate the ability of the North East to deliver critically-acclaimed films ranging from experimental breakthrough features such as Frank through to Song for Marion with its all-star cast. NFM is proud to have backed these diverse films and is hopeful that the hard work of the North East crew, local authorities and locations is reflected with success on Sunday night.”
And there’s another chance for a local talent to bag one of the big awards, as Whitley Bay actress Andrea Riseborough has a best actress nomination for her starring role as an IRA widow in Northern Ireland-set thriller Shadow Dancer.
The 31-year-old faces stiff competition from acting heavyweights Judi Dench in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady, while Domhnall Gleeson – her brother in Shadow Dancer – is one of Connolly’s rivals for best supporting actor and Redgrave goes head to head with Dench’s co-star Maggie Smith.
The film with the highest number of nominations this year (nine) is Broken, the debut of theatre and opera director Rufus Norris.
The 15th annual Moët British Independent Film Awards, hosted by actor James Nesbitt, will see winners picked from nominations whittled down from 200 films.
Amanda Nevill, BFI chief executive, said: “These are the UK’s only awards focusing entirely on independent British films. As such, they really help to shine a spotlight on the vast range and breadth of excellence in independent UK filmmaking.”