Midlands Movies Awards 2018: ones to watch!

   I love the film awards season. My friends and I watched this year's BAFTA ceremony a couple of weeks ago like we were watching the Superbowl, cheering and shouting at the TV in equal measures. We plan on doing the same for the OSCARs this Sunday. But, before we get to that, there's another awards ceremony taking place the day before - and this one celebrates all things local.

   Midlands Movies launched their first awards last year, which was an online-only event. It was received very well by the local community (I loved it in particular because they gave Night Owls three awards, with a further four nominations!), so they decided to take this year's awards to the next level, with a physical ceremony in Leicester.

   They announced this year's nominees in January, and it really is a great line-up. I have so many favourites that I really couldn't put money on any of them. But, for those of you who haven't heard of these films, here are my ones to watch:

1) Time, And Again

Nominated for: Best Short, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects

Little Seagull's time-travel short film has already gathered a lot of attention on the festival circuit, in no small part because the male lead is none other than Doctor Who's Colin Baker! It's a beautiful-looking film with an incredible set and flawless performances. It also delivers a subtle emotional punch, which is hard to do in the Sci-Fi genre. This is the one to beat!

2) Butterfly

Nominated for: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Louise Salter), Best Sound

This film was a long time coming, but definitely worth the wait. I've already waxed lyrical about Butterfly in a review of last year's Beeston Film Festival, but in short it's a moving portrait of a young girl whose dreams are up-railed when she discovers she has epilepsy. The core performance is great, so I'm not surprised by the film's Leading Actress nomination - although I did expect it to get more!

3) After Party

Nominated for: Best Short, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects

The only one on the list I personally worked on (production & costume design), so I am somewhat biased. However, what makes Superfreak Media & Siskamedia's horror film so special is how feminine it is. It's terrifying, and I'm so glad director Liam Banks' VFX work has been nominated, but it's also a story of friendship with an all-female cast, and the film allows their performances to shine.

4) I am God, and Severely Underqualified 

Nominated for: Best Short, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Cinematography

Another one I reviewed after watching at Beeston Film Festival. This film is up for all the technical awards because, in a nutshell, it looks stunning. It's beautifully made, with a gentle plot lifted by great visuals and a strong single performance by Melvyn Rawlinson. I am God, and Severely Underqualified is a unique film, and potentially the dark horse of the night.

5) Clockworks

Nominated for: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emmeline Kellie), Best Sound

The second film on the list by Siskamedia hasn't hit the festivals yet, but you really should catch it when it does. As with Time, And Again, this is a time-travel drama with a clever script and beautiful production design, but this one features a wonderful twist at the end. Emmeline Kellie is nominated for her lead performance - but, as you can tell by the above screenshot, she could've been nominated twice! (The fact that the film's VFX wasn't nominated was a bit of a surprise. It really is seamless).

6) The Knock

Nominated for: Best Director, Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Maude Hirst), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Nico Mirallegro)

This iShorts-funded film is a big contender in the acting categories, as you can see by the nominations. It's a strong performance-based short with beautiful period visuals, shown through the eyes of a small boy. What's more, it's great to see that Phillip Stevens is nominated for best Director, as his actors' work is a testimony to him.

7) The Last Drop (Der Letzte Tropfen)

Nominated for: Best Writing

And finally, I couldn't end the list without mentioning the fact that my dear friend and collaborator Tommy Draper is up for yet another writing award. His involvement is the sole reason this German-made film qualifies for the event, so it's a bit of a wild card - but definitely a worthy one. Sascha Zimmerman's black horror/comedy about an unusual support group looks great, and the screenplay features some great dialogue and genre-bending twists.


   I'll definitely be attending the awards ceremony, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's an amazing line-up. My only minor disappointment is the fact that the film's Art Departments aren't really represented, when all other departments have been celebrated. There are awards for Costume Design and Make-up (rolled into one category, despite the fact that they are very different jobs) and there's no nomination for Production Design at all. Time, And Again, Clockworks and I Am God all have incredible sets (not mentioning After Party, of course!). Hopefully the Midlands Movies team will readdress this in the future, but for now this is only a tiny blip in an otherwise stellar list of nominees, and it won't affect my enjoyment of the night.

   I cannot stress enough how great the local filmmaking community is. People are starting to become aware of the region's talent, but with the lack of a local film council, events like this are so important. So please support Midlands Movies, and help us spread the word about the great films that are coming out of the area.



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