The BAFTAS 2014


It would seem that the majority of BAFTA members are lacking in any sense of irony: they awarded the Outstanding British Film Award to Gravity. Technically they are correct, and apparently about 90% of what we see and hear [much of it debris] was Made in Britain. However one wonders what criteria they were following: two Hollywood stars and the logo of Warner Brothers.  I thought the latter resided under the famed Hollywood sign rather than overlooking one of the plinths in Trafalgar Square?

One wonders how many of the members actually watched all of the nominees in this category. Not that this mattered that much: they included Philomena, The Selfish Giant and then the South African Mandela biopic, Rush and Saving Mr Banks. The last two were celebrating Formula 1 and Walt Disney. I assumed that given Best Picture frequently goes to a Hollywood movie that the function of Outstanding British Picture was to celebrate home-made films. I rather think we are in danger of losing the plot.

Gravity also won the award for Best Cinematography. This would seem slightly more appropriate. If like me you listened to Radio 4 on Friday morning, you would have heard one of the skilled technicians explaining about the Computer Generated Images in the film. Monday’s Radio 4 had a critic justifying the awards, including that for Gravity. ‘Me thinks they protest too much’.

To balance the above the officially listed US film 12 Years a Slave won Best Film and Best Actor  – the director and lead actor having crossed the Atlantic to present a film about slavery in the USA. This is a film that also has no visible presence from these shores: but the invisible presence includes the British ships that transported the majority of Africans across the same Atlantic Ocean.


One comment

  1. Roy Stafford

    I understand your argument but it strikes me that, as in the case of the British Film Institute, London Film Festival etc., BAFTA gets itself strung up between the two poles of ‘industry’ and ‘culture’. The organisation, set up by UK film directors, sets out to promote the arts of filmmaking but it recognises that the UK industry is largely funded by Hollywood money. Interestingly though, even Screen International has questioned this year why it doesn’t promote domestic production more heavily.

    On GRAVITY I was irritated most by the BBC Radio reporter who told us breathlessly that the film was ‘British’ because it was made by Framestore (one of the VFX companies in London). I’m very pleased about the recognition of the UK’s VFX facilities and expertise but this is a nonsense. The film is British because it was made by David Heyman’s company Heyday Films (producers of Harry Potter and the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas etc.) in a partnership with Alfonso Cuaron’s company which in turn contracted Framestore. Presumably Warner Bros invested in the production but what an industry commentator should be explaining is whether the ‘Britishness’ is a BAFTA definition or a BFI definition. In the latter case, to qualify for tax relief, GRAVITY must have passed the ‘Cultural Test’ since there is no bilateral agreement with Mexico and this is not a European co-production. If it did pass the test Heyday plus Framestore plus Pinewood and other British creative and technical inputs would be totted up.


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