Belfast Telegraph

Temporarily banned film Blue Story shortlisted for Bafta

The gang drama is shortlisted along with nine other films in the outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer category.

Blue Story has been shortlisted for a Bafta (Ian West/PA)
Blue Story has been shortlisted for a Bafta (Ian West/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

The film that was temporarily pulled from cinemas due to violence at screenings has been shortlisted for a Bafta film award.

Gang drama Blue Story is on the shortlist in the outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer category for next year’s ceremony.

The film, the first by director Rapman (real name Andrew Onwubolu), was temporarily withdrawn from Vue cinemas after seven police officers were injured in a disturbance at Star City in Birmingham last month, where there were reports of youths with machetes.

The cinema chain said it pulled Blue Story as a safety precaution after “25 significant incidents” were reported at its venues within 24 hours of the film’s release, although they later reinstated it.

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Blue Story stars Micheal Ward, left, and Stephen Odubola (Ian West/PA)

Showcase also cancelled showings at its venues, but resumed screenings a few days later after “careful consideration and discussions with the distributor”.

Other shortlisted films include documentary For Sama, directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts, and Animals, written by Emma Jane Unsworth, for the award.

For Sama, which recently won the best British independent film prize at the British Independent Film Awards (Bifa), was filmed through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria.

Unsworth won the debut screenwriter Bifa for Animals, which tells the story of best friends Laura and Tyler, whose lifestyle comes under scrutiny as Laura becomes engaged to a teetotaller.

The other films in the running are Bait, Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story, The Last Tree, Maiden, Only You, The Party’s Just Beginning and Retablo.

Marc Samuelson, chairman of Bafta’s Film Committee, said: “New talent is the lifeblood of the British film industry.

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Emma Jane Unsworth (Matt Crossick/PA)

“This shortlist of 10 films shines a light on a diverse group of talented debut British filmmakers who demonstrate that the future of British film is in good hands.”

Blue Story, which follows the lives of two boys caught up on opposite sides of a postcode war, is the directorial debut by Rapman.

It is about two friends, Marco, played by Top Boy star Micheal Ward, and Timmy, played by Stephen Odubola, who go to school together in Peckham, south London, but end up in rival gangs.

Following the temporary withdrawal of the film from cinemas, viewers said the movie had been unfairly blamed for the fight at Birmingham’s Star City venue because the film’s overriding message is to warn youngsters away from gang culture.

Nominations for all Bafta categories, including the outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer prize, will be announced on January 7 2020.

The British Academy Film Awards are on February 2 2020 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

PA

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