The Virgin Media Shorts Awards Ceremony which took place at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank, truly was the star studded event it set out to be. From start to finish the evening was an array of stylish suits, cocktail dresses, alcoholic beverages, great films and music, laughter and more importantly, Celebration with a capital C.
A host of stars were also in attendance including Singer/DJ Paloma Faith, actress of Wuthing Heights/ Skins Kaya Scodelario, Vanessa Kirby (The Hour), Douglas Booth (Great Expectations), Submarine actor Craig Roberts, Attack the Block star Jodie Whittaker and Downton Abbey actresses Laura Carmichael and Joanne Froggatt.
After enjoying a lovely Champagne reception with live music from Alice Russell we were ushered into a cinema area for the main purpose of the evening- the presentation of awards. With a glass of champagne in hand and a tub of popcorn with complimentary cinema tickets attached, author, presenter and the host of the evening Danny Wallace took to the stage to open the ceremony. His witty personality and continuous jokes created a light hearted and relaxed atmosphere. After a welcoming speech from Director of Digital Entertainment at Virgin Media, Cindy Rose, each of the finalists were introduced along with a presentation of their films.
The 12 Shortlisted entries included:
- Bistro: Sean Gray, London- “A hoggish diner is horrified by the tiny portions served to him in a top notch restaurant. Enraged, he decides to take matters into his own hands…”
- By Hook: Laura Evers Johns, London- “In a dark fairytale world, a lonely fishmonger discovers a mermaid and risks the wrath of his nemesis to steal her away. Then he must decide where the mermaid truly belongs- with him, or the sea.
- Coasting: Federico Forcolini, London- “Two old friends set off on a countryside adventure, searching for the best that the great outdoors has to offer. Will they be in time to catch a glimpse of the rare specimens they’re looking for?”
- Don Justino De Neve: Daisy Jacobs, Gosport- “Don Justino is a fascinating swine-beautiful but rotten inside. Dozens of women fall victim to his charms and he leaves their shattered hearts in his wake”
- The Dreamers: Matt Maude, Halifax- “A woman rises from her bed in the middle of the night. Asleep, she wanders through the city streets, followed by her concerned husband. As she walks, we see other sleepwalkers gathering silently in one place and time.”
- First Press: Mat Laroche & Jonathan Brooks, London- “To become a member of an exclusive organisation, one man must punish himself to the very limit. He will find himself in uncharted territory, but will his best be good enough.”
- The Friend Catcher: Lucy Campbell, Manchester- “A boy arrives at a new school at lunch time. Under scrutiny from the other children, he’s reluctant to open his lunch box when he sees what they’ve got stashed away…”
- The Good Samaritan: Ryan Vernava, Wolverhampton- “A young man finds himself in trouble on the day of his wedding, trapped in a prank from his stage do. He looks to a passing stranger for compassion.”
- Inanimate: Michael O’Donghue, Soulla Josephides and Ying Hui Tan, London- “An affectionate alien travels across the galaxy to earth in search of his true love. A prickly problem threatens to destroy his happiness, until he finally finds his perfect match.”
- MES: Ian Gamester, Liverpool- Cath Gamester is given anti-depressants by her GP, little does she know just how big an impact it’ll have on her life. This touching documentary looks at a very rare condition and how Cath smiles through it.”
- Saloon: Tom Pietrasik, London- “Filmed over a weekend in suburban New Dhelhi, Saloon is an affectionate glimpse inside the private world of the Indian barbershop, where customers can expect more than just a haircut.”
- 20:20: Jason Wingard, Manchester- “Dave is handed a pair of broken old glasses by a mysterious woman on the street. He has just two minutes and twenty seconds to figure out what they mean.”
Each of these are currently being viewed by millions country wide on TV (through both Virgin Media’s Movies and an app for Virgin Media’s TiVo® Service), cinemas nationwide, online and via mobile.
TiVo® Award: A newly introduced award voted for by Virgin Media Customers, went to Coasting by Federico Forcolini- presented by James King (film critic and presenter of ITV2’s The Movie Show).
This year’s People’s Choice Award, presented by Matt Whitecross (director of Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, The Road to Guantanamo, Ashes), went to directors Michael O’Donghue, Soulla Josephides and Ying Hui Tan for Inanimate. They were also awarded with £2000 worth of film equipment.
The Grand Prize: After being awarded the People’s Choice Award for his film Bus Baby at the 2010 awards, this year’s winner, presented by legendary John Hurt, went to Jason Wingard for his film 20:20. With that title also came a prize of £30,000 funding to put towards a future film project as well as support from the Film Fund experts- BFI in the making of the film. A Huge Congratulations!
Jason said: “I am so happy to be named the winner of Virgin Media Shorts 2011 – second time lucky! Winning the People’s Choice Award last year was fantastic but it whetted my appetite for more so to win the Grand Prize is phenomenal. I’ve seen how this competition can open doors for film makers, and am delighted that my work has been given the seal of approval by the likes of John Hurt – it is a true honour.”
Cindy Rose stated “Virgin Media Shorts is all about offering a platform to film makers trying to break into what is notoriously a difficult industry, so as judges we all take a significant amount of time to assess each entrant. Jason Wingard demonstrated real vision and expertise in 2:20 – a truly deserving winner.”
John Hurt said: “I’ve always been a huge advocate of independent film. The breadth of talent displayed in this year’s entrants was extraordinary which made it a very difficult but nonetheless enjoyable task judging the entrants. For me, 2:20 is a really neat idea, beautifully realised. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jason does next.”
To view the winning films and for further information about virgin media shorts see www.virginmediashorts.co.uk.
With the winners announced it was time to celebrate with a little boogey on the dance floor to music provided by DJ’s Paloma Faith and Rob da Bank. I haven’t one bad word to say about the planning of the event as it truly was well thought out, from the fantastic venue, to the beautiful cocktails at the bar (with flowers), the canapés circulating the room, to the photo booth which immediately presented you with print outs of your snapshots as a memorabilia. I’m sure all those in attendance would agree- it was an absolutely fantastic evening!