Monday 24 February 2014

Does BAFTA matter?

Steve McQueen with the Best Film BAFTA for 12 Years a Slave
So, a week after the ceremony at The Royal Opera House in London, why does BAFTA matter? In 2001, the date of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards shifted from April to a February slot in order to hoick up its global significance as a pointer for the Oscars in March.

With the BBC1 broadcast lagging at least and hour and a half behind live activity, the ceremony itself possesses all the excitement of a deflated balloon. The buzz is all on Twitter. BAFTA itself coyly circumvented the spoiler issue by tweeting a link to its Tumblr account ('expand at your own peril')
while floating in a spume of winner revelations. Watching BAFTA on TV is all about seating plans, frocks and the professionally masked facial tics of elation and disappointment.

The plaudits however, an endorsement by vote from around 6,500 individuals in the industry based in the UK and US,  do count for something. Gravity, with its Mexican director and American stars Bullock and Clooney, won the most awards (7 in total), and had to hassle like some loose-limbed young colonial athlete for British status. The fact that it was shot at Shepperton Studios employing the incredible special effects expertise of British company Framestore seemed rub off into the announcement early this week that Pinewood is to open major new studios in Cardiff.

Similarly Steve McQueen's statement that there are "21 million people living in slavery as we sit here now” in his acceptance speech for the Best Film BAFTA for 12 Years a Slave was matched topically the next day by a news report on child trafficking as  the Modern Slavery Bill that is currently going through Parliament.

For us as a film festival, and one that falls almost exactly between the two major sets of film industry awards, the BAFTAs and Oscars matter. They're a badge that lifts a movie; its public profile rises and wafts into word of mouth. It's a selling point.

The Great Beauty
So here, shamelessly partisan but all in one place, are the films we're showing that won:
Best Film - 12 Years a Slave
Film Not in the English Language - The Great Beauty
Adapted Screenplay - Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope for Philomena
Leading Actor - Chiwetel Eljiofor for 12 Years a Slave
Leading Actress - Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Supporting Actor - Barkhad Abdi  for Captain Phillips
Editing - Dan Hanley, Mike Hill for Rush


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