A film written, filmed, produced and directed by a team of students from the University of Westminster’s Film and Television Production BA has been shortlisted at the 2012 Student Oscars, the second year in a row that there has been a University of Westminster film as an Academy Award finalist.
“For Elsie”, directed by David Winstone from a script by Vincent Klueger, is a 'top five finalist' in the Foreign Film Award category at this year's prestigious Student Academy Awards, to be held in Hollywood on June 9th 2012.
“For Elsie” tells the story of a disillusioned piano teacher, Glenn, (played by Blake Ritson - ‘Upstairs Downstairs’; ‘Emma’) who once aspired to be a concert pianist, but now has to move back to his parents’ home. However, a Russian gangster, Kilov, offers Glenn an alternative: £10,000 if he can teach Kilov’s daughter to play Beethoven’s “Für Elise” …. in a day.
The film was shot at Westminster’s own film studio, and on location in Cambridge, with a set designed and built by Katie Clarke. The producer was Gemma Priggen, and the director of photography was Joseph Kelly Jones, using an Arriflex D21.
The Student Academy Awards is an annual competition for college and university filmmakers. “For Elsie” has been nominated in the Foreign Film Award category. It is one of the ‘final five’ films nominated for this award, which have been chosen from a shortlist of 51 films from 29 different countries. Past winners of Student Academy Awards include Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Bob Saget and Oscar winners John Lasseter and Robert Zemeckis.
Since directing the film in 2011, David Winstone has worked on an internship at Origin Pictures (‘The Awakening’, ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’).
“For Elsie” has already won several other awards including Bronze at the International Film and Video Festival Beijing, 2011, the Audience Award at the VGIK International Student Film Festival, Moscow, 2011, the Audience Award at the Exposures Student Film Festival 2012 and Best Fiction at the Royal Television Society student awards. It has been selected for competition at the forthcoming Tel Aviv and Berlin International Student Film Festivals.
Paul Trijbits, Executive Producer at Ruby Films and a member of the University of Westminster Cinema Advisory Board, said: "David Winstone's “For Elsie” demonstrates the wealth of talent which is being harboured and nurtured at the University of Westminster Film School. This short with an exceptional performance by Blake Ritson demonstrates how important short films are in the career progression of the next generation of film-makers from the UK. It's wonderful that this is being recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture & Science."
Nicolas Kent, Director of the Tricycle Theatre and Cinema, said: “I saw For Elsie at the BAFTA showcase late last year and think it is one of the most brilliant and talented British Short films of the last decade.”
The University of Westminster film and television course is widely recognized as being amongst the best in the world, with an international reputation for academic and practical teaching, and was the first course of its kind in the UK to be awarded degree status.
Peter Hort, Course Director of the Film & Television Production BA at the University of Westminster, said: “Winning a Student Academy Award nomination is a wonderful achievement for our undergraduate students. They are competing with much more experienced students, from postgraduate National Film Schools all over the world, and it’s a testament to their creativity, maturity and technical ability that they’ve created films that move and entertain audiences wherever they’re seen. And to follow up our 2011 top 5 finalist nomination for ‘The Miserables’ with another one this year is of course tremendously satisfying for the course.”
The University boasts a prestigious list of leading film alumni, including Michael Winterbottom (Jude, 9 Songs, The Killer Inside Me), Asif Kapadia (Senna, The Warrior, Far North), cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Avengers), editors Andrew Parker (East Is East, Calendar Girls), Lucia Zucchetti (The Rat Catcher, Merchant Of Venice, The Queen); writers Tony Grisoni (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Red Riding,) and Neal Purvis (Skyfall (Bond 2012), Johnny English Reborn, Let Him Have It).
The University of Westminster is currently fundraising to restore its cinema on Regent Street, where the first moving image was shown in 1896, to its former glory. Restoring the birthplace of British cinema will cost over £5 million. The University of Westminster backed by some of the biggest names in the British film industry, has already received development funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a ‘green light’ for £1m towards the project. Generous contributions have also been made by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation and the Quintin Hogg Trust meaning a substantial portion of our target has been met. The campaign is now being stepped up to raise the rest of the finance.