×

Diverse debuts energize BAFTAS

BAFTA Awards 2013

If the BAFTA jury set out to pinpoint the sheer diversity of new Brit talent, it couldn’t have done a better job with this year’s choice of nominees for debut by a British writer, director or producer.

From a Hollywood kids’ musical to a low-budget movie shot clandestinely in Iran, two contrasting documentaries and the directing debut of a former child star, the nominated films prove that British cinema is a very broad church indeed.

Tina Gharavi was unknown to the U.K. film industry before her nomination as writer-director of “I Am Nasrine,” a drama about an Iranian woman who escapes from Tehran to the bleak city of Newcastle in northeast England.

Gharavi’s own family left Iran during the 1979 revolution, when she was 6. She lived in the U.K., the U.S., France and New Zealand before settling back in Newcastle, where she runs her own production company Bridge and Tunnel and lectures in digital media at Newcastle U.

Popular on Variety

She secretly shot the Iranian sections of “I Am Nasrine” by pretending to be a second-unit crew from another feature, which has an ironic echo of “Argo” — a film she dismisses for its inaccurate representation of her native country. The finished film premiered at the tiny Berwick festival and had only been screened a few times in her local area before her BAFTA nod flung her into the industry spotlight.

At the other end of the spectrum, James Bobin wrote for Sacha Baron Cohen and co-created “Flight of the Conchords” before being offered his feature directing debut with “The Muppets.” His deft comedic touch matched Jason Segel’s affectionate vision, and he’s signed up for the sequel.

Dexter Fletcher made his movie debut 36 years ago in the seminal kids musical “Bugsy Malone,” before segueing into a successful adult career with “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Band of Brothers.”

His directing debut, for which he’s nominated alongside co-writer Danny King, is “Wild Bill,” a nicely crafted tale of an ex-con whose sudden re-appearance after eight years inside isn’t welcomed by his teenage son.

Fletcher is now shooting his second movie, “Sunshine on Leith,” a Scottish musical based on the songs of the Proclaimers.

Director Bart Layton and producer Dimitri Doganis premiered their doc “The Imposter” at Sundance last year. The extraordinary true story of the French conman who convinced a Texan family he was their long-lost son has chalked up boffo U.K. box office and many awards. “The Imposter” is also nominated by BAFTA for top documentary.

So is “McCullin,” a more straightforward doc about the legendary Brit war photographer Don McCullin, shot by brother-and-sister team David and Jacqui Morris, who share a debut nomination. Jacqui Morris originally worked as McCullin’s assistant. She and her brother then worked in advertising as casting directors, before self-financing their first feature, the gay-themed drama “Mr. Right,” in 2009.

Because that movie only got a couple of festival screenings but not a full theatrical release, they still qualified for BAFTA’s debut award with “McCullin.”

BAFTA Awards 2013
BAFTA and Oscars: Separate and almost equal | Diverse debuts energize BAFTAS | BAFTA’s Rising Star kudo takes femme turn

More Scene

  • Logan Lerman Jordan Peele Al Pacino

    Al Pacino and Carol Kane Had a ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ Reunion on the ‘Hunters’ Set

    Nearly 45 years after Al Pacino and Carol Kane appeared in Sidney Lumet’s classic film “Dog Day Afternoon,” an Amazon Prime Video series about Nazi-hunters in 1977 New York City has brought them back together. Go figure. “I’m proud to be working with him again,” Kane told Variety at the “Hunters” premiere on Wednesday night [...]

  • Anya Taylor Joy Emma Premiere

    Anya Taylor-Joy on Playing Jane Austen's Clever, Callous Protagonist in 'Emma'

    It was an evening of elegance at the Los Angeles premiere of Focus Features’ “Emma” on Tuesday night. The red carpet was lined with pastel floral arrangements at the DGA Theater, priming visitors to be transported to the ornate pageantry of Georgian-era England, as depicted in this new adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic tale. Anya [...]

  • Tom Holland Chris Pratt Onward Premiere

    Tom Holland and Chris Pratt Show Off Real-Life Bond at Pixar's 'Onward' Premiere

    Pixar’s new movie “Onward” marks a reunion of sorts for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. The two actors, who both have ties to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and most recently teamed in “Avengers: Endgame” as Spider-Man and Star-Lord, play brothers in the animated fantasy adventure. Their friendship has become a highlight of “Onward’s” promotional tour [...]

  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph

    Da’Vine Joy Randolph Praises Hulu's 'High Fidelity' for Telling a Realistic New York Story

    If HBO’s “Girls” characterized a certain type of young, disaffected millennial, fumbling cluelessly around a gentrifying Brooklyn, and if “Sex and the City” used Manhattan as a tantalizing playground for a class of well-connected, glamorous and decidedly 90s-bound women, both shows had one thing in common: they were painfully, inevitably white. “We’re gonna fix that!,” [...]

  • Harrison Ford Call of the Wild

    Why Harrison Ford Wanted to Play John Thornton in ‘The Call of the Wild’

    Joining legends like Charlton Heston and Clarke Gable, who have played the role of John Thornton in “The Call of the Wild,” Harrison Ford now stands next to a CGI-enhanced version of the dog named Buck in the latest adaptation of Jack London’s classic 1903 novel. “I thought the film has a lot to say [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content