10 Screenwriters to Watch 2011: Andrew Haigh

British filmmaker Andrew Haigh began his career as an assistant editor on films like “Black Hawk Down,” but he soon came to realize he’d rather be telling his own stories than piecing together someone else’s.

After honing his writer- director skills on a handful of shorts, Haigh tackled his feature-length debut in 2009 with “Greek Pete,” a film that blurs the line between fact and fiction to tell the tale of a male prostitute in London. That same year, the film played at the San Francisco Intl. LGBT Film Festival.

This year, Haigh returned with his sophomore feature “Weekend,” a story about two men who meet, get to know each other, and fall in love.

In March, “Weekend” premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival; in June, it opened the BAM Cinemafest in Gotham; and just last month it celebrated its U.K. premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. For Haigh, 2011 was the year that everything clicked.

“I was sitting in a cafe in Manhattan having breakfast and reading the ‘Weekend’ review by A.O. Scott in the New York Times,” he recalls. “It was a pretty cool moment. I felt I could finally call myself a filmmaker, and I had waited a long time to feel that way.”

While both of his first two features focus on gay characters, Haigh hopes audiences will concentrate more on the universal messages of life, love and relationships that shine through in his work, and less on the labels that may come with them.

“People are always desperate to label others,” he says, “and the same goes for films. But ‘Weekend’ is more than just about being gay, and I’m pleased that most people seem to agree with me.”

Haigh is working on a film adaptation of a short story, as well as an original screenplay set in Los Angeles.

TEN SCREENWRITERS TO WATCH 2011:
Josh Appelbaum & Andrew Nemec | Jay Baruchel & Jesse Chabot | Justin Britt-Gibson | Neil Cross | Andrew Haigh | Kurt Johnstad | Lauryn Kahn | Paula Pell | Jon Spaihts | Brian Yorkey

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