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University of Westminster film nominated for student Oscars

— May 2012

Associated media

A still from  For Elsie, nominated for a Student Oscar award

  Nomination for the Student Academy Awards, the highest global accolade

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 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. 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: ‘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 recognized 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. 

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. See our March news story covering this project.

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