An overview of this year’s newbie helmers, screenwriters and producers vying for BAFTA’s Carl Foreman kudo:
Joe Wright, director
Wright has a taste for dark materials and an ingrained suspicion of happy endings (his favorite pic is “Blue Velvet”), so “Pride & Prejudice” was an unlikely choice for his feature debut. He added lashings of Bronte intensity to Austen’s tart romance; pulled the performance of her short career out of Keira Knightley; seamlessly melded an ensemble of very different actors; and handled with remarkable maturity a big period production shot entirely on location.
Variety said: “A keeper for the ages, pic brings Jane Austen’s best-loved novel to vivid, widescreen life.”
Richard Hawkins, writer-director
After years of development hell, Hawkins decided to make “Everything” as cheaply as possible with a bunch of mates. They raised £47,000 ($82,900) and shot for just nine days. Jan Graveson and Ray Winstone turn in brave performances as an aging Soho hooker and the awkward punter who only wants to talk and play Monopoly. A story that could easily be seedy and depressing gradually blossoms into something at once gripping and tender.
Variety said: “A forcefully executed, slow-burning thriller … marked by strong perfs.”
David Belton, producer
Belton describes himself as “too stupid to know when to stop,” which explains how he managed to get “Shooting Dogs” made despite being beaten to the market by two other movies about the Rwandan genocide. Born directly out of his personal experience as a BBC news producer covering the Rwandan civil war in 1994, his movie is distinguished by its raw authenticity (it’s the only one of the three to shoot in Rwanda, using many people who survived the massacres as extras and crew). Rough around the edges, perhaps, but it’s impossible not to be moved.
Variety said: “In many respects a more stylish, authentic and tougher-minded film than ‘Hotel Rwanda.’ ”
Annie Griffin, writer-director
Anyone who expects “Festival” to be a brutal satire about the vanity and ego of aspiring talent trekking north to Edinburgh, Scotland, every year for the summer arts festival will be disappointed. The American-born Griffin, once an Edinburgh hopeful herself, clearly empathizes with the motley crew of wannabes whom she skewers so wittily in her debut pic. Nothing is ever black and white, motivations are complex, contradictory and never entirely clear either to the characters themselves or to the audience.
Variety said: “Tautly weaves together the fortunes of standups, thesps, journos, lovers and locals for a sharp ensemble satire.”
Peter Fudakowski, producer
The oldest of the nominees, 51-year-old Fudakowski spent 30 years as a film financier before setting up his own production company with his wife and script editor, Henrietta. They started developing the South African ghetto drama “Tsotsi” with writer-director Gavin Hood long before they actually secured the rights to Atholl Fugard’s novel. This emotional tale of a vicious young thug whose long-suppressed humanity is reawakened when he accidentally kidnaps a baby is married with a pounding dancehall soundtrack to irresistible effect.
Variety said: “Pic has a vital urban energy similar to ‘City of God’ but with a tighter, more conventional storyline.”