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Opinion: the meaning of the BAFTAs 2016

Ricardo Domizio, Film Studies Course Director at London South Bank University, shares his thoughts on the nominations for this year's BAFTA Awards
10 February 2016

With the 2016 BAFTAs just around the corner, LSBU’s Film Studies Course Director Ricardo Domizio discusses this year’s nominations and the present strengths of the British film industry:

"As the storm over the lack of black nominees for this year’s Oscars rolls on, the furore across the pond is in danger of totally obscuring our own version of the Oscars – the British Film Awards, or BAFTAs, which takes place on 14 February.

"This would be a shame as the BAFTAs are an ideal opportunity to celebrate both the best of British film talent and to take stock of the condition of our own film industry.

"This is important as the UK film market is the second largest in the world, generating close to £4bn a year, and employing more people than the pharmaceutical sector and fund management. This is why both film critics and academics like myself are very keen to check the output of the industry year by year, in the hope that it continues to progress and to thrive.

"Nominated for the BAFTAs this year we have the usual array of Hollywood movies, most notably Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Revenant, interspersed with standout British films like Brooklyn, Amy, and The Danish Girl.

"Other notable British films like Suffragette and Legend didn’t manage a nomination, which is surprising considering their subject matter is solidly within the realm of our national consciousness. Personally, I’m delighted that Alex Garland’s Ex Machina has done well in the nominations, as it combines a mesmerising visual style with a fascinating futuristic storyline.

"In contrast, one of the least promoted British films in this year’s crop is perhaps worth a special mention:  Maggie Smith’s nomination for best actress in The Lady in the Van, which is based on a real-life event when a homeless woman parked her camper van, uninvited, in the driveway of the poet Alan Bennett, and then stayed for the next 15 years. This is the kind of quirky tale that we love to get our film students talking about, as it tells us a lot about the way British film often expresses a modest ‘local’ sensibility rather than a commercially spectacular ‘global’ one. And yet from these apparently small, insignificant stories we can explore much wider issues about the way that politics and culture are going, about the state of the British film industry, and about how these smaller, low-budget projects provide a real opportunity for a first step into film production. 

"I very much look forward to the awards night, and even more to the animated discussion it will no doubt generate in the student seminars that follow."

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