SCOTLAND’S film industry has been dealt a major boost after scooping a string of nominations for the British Independent Film Awards.
Glasgow director David Mackenzie’s gritty father-and-son prison drama Starred Up, which won widespread acclaim at the recent Toronto and London film festivals, is leading the entire field with eight nominations.
Filth, Aberdeenshire director Jon Baird’s adaptation of the Irvine Welsh book, has scored five nominations - including nods for actors James McAvoy, Shirley Henderson and Eddie Marsan.
First-time director Paul Wright, from Fife, is in the running for the prize for best debut film-maker with For Those In Peril, which is also leading the running for nominations at this weekend’s BAFTA Scotland awards.
One of only two UK films to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, the moving drama charts the impact of a fishing tragedy on a close-knit community in the north east.
Meanwhile Jeanie Finlay’s film The Great Hip Hop Hoax about two young Scots rappers who famously duped the music industry with their fake Californian accents is in the running for best documentary.
And one of Mackenzie’s rivals for the best director prize will be Jonathan Glazer, for Under the Skin, the film Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson shot in Scotland, playing a sinister alien seeking out male victims, which she has also won a nomination for. It was based on Highland author Michael Faber’s 2002 novel.
Sigma Films, the company which Mackenzie set up with his actor brother David and producer Gillian Berrie, produced both Starred Up and Under the Skin, both of which are due to be released in March - raising the prospect of high-profile screenings at the Glasgow Film Festival the previous month.
Starred up stars Jack O’Connell will compete against McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Steve Coogan and Tom Hardy in the best actor catgory.
Co-stars Rupert Friend and Ben Mendelsohn are both nominated for best supporting actor at the BIFAs, which are being held on 8 December. The film’s other nominations include best British film, best director and best screenplay.
However just one of the five films nominated for the BIFAs is eligible for this weekend’s BAFTA ceremony in Glasgow - For Those In Peril - as the others were either not released or screened at a festival early enough, or did not meet the academy’s strict criteria.
Sigma’s success in the BIFA nominations has come just after filming began on its latest film, Swung, based on Ewan Morrison’s hit novel, which is set against the backdrop of the swinging scene in Glasgow.
Berrie has been one of the leading figures in the recent campaign to secure better backing for the film industry from the Scottish Government and its main arts agency Creative Scotland, warning the industry north of the border is in the grip of a deepening crisis, claiming “it is in bits at the moment.”
Berrie told The Scotsman: “The amount of nominations we have again proves the level of Scottish talent that’s operating in the film sector.
“We continue to punch above our weight. Now, surely it’s time we were rewarded with similar levels of funding as our neighbouring small countries.
“We’re getting left behind and the economic impact of investing isn’t being recognised. Ireland’s film industry is valued at €550m, not to mention the additional knock-on effect it has on tourism, which is valued at €300m.”
At present, production companies are only able to bid for up to £300,0000 for major film and TV productions, regardless of the overall budget.
A £2 million loan fund has been set aside to get major studio facilities off the ground, while Creative Scotland has also pledged £1 million to the project.
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “That five Scottish films have been nominated is testament to the quality and talent of the industry in Scotland and its global reputation for excellence.
“Through Creative Scotland, which invested in all five, the Scottish Government is demonstrating strong support for the screen sector as well as attracting international productions. Scotland has the capacity and talent to become a major centre of TV and film production and we are committed to supporting this goal.”
Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland, said: “It’s great to see so many films from Scotland being recognised.
“It is testament to the strength and quality of Scotland’s independent filmmaking, with David Mackenzie’s Starred Up receiving eight nominations across seven categories and emerging talent Paul Wright being recognised for his debut feature, For Those In Peril.
“Along with the inclusion of films such as Under the Skin, Filth and the Great Hip Hop Hoax, this year’s awards demonstrate Scotland’s ability to develop, produce and attract the very best of UK and international film making talent.”