Scary

TCM Winner A Bout de Truffe

So there I was, last night, standing on stage at NFT1 at the BFI South Bank, standing behind the podium wearing a cheap Halloween mask. For a laugh. (Albeit, I’m afraid, a rather muted one.) Yes, it was my third stint as host of TCM Classic Shorts, the now eight-year-old short film award, open this year, for the first time, to entrants from the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Another bumper year: 381 entries, 141 of which were from outside the UK (foreigners coming over here, stealing our prestigious film awards etc.), and two of which made the final shortlist of six. The award is open to anyone with a camera, but once again, the quality was incredibly high, and the six finalists are all fantastic. You can watch them on TCM this weekend (Nov 3-4, details here), but it was great to see them on a big screen, as ever.

Here’s my blog entry on last year’s event, with pics. I am only in possession of the one above, currently, which is (l-r) me, Tom Tagholm, director and writer of winning film A Bout de Truffe (a very sweet and sad parody of a French film about a man and his truffle-snuffling pig), his editor, award presenter and British film production legend Nik Powell (who is already thinking in this pic, “Can I make the second half of the Arsenal match?”), and, in front, French actor Stephan Cornicard, who plays the man. As soon as I get my hands on more pics, I’ll post them. What you’re not seeing in this one is me in my cheap Halloween mask, which was my opening “gag”, and not spectacularly successful. But it was Halloween! The rest of my opening speech was a little more successful – having mused in previous years on the fact that everything is getting bigger, and how small things are best, I went for it this year and delivered a Short History Of Cinema in five minutes. I was very pleased with this as a piece of writing, but I had no idea how well it would go down as a speech. Luckily, the crowd were very kind, and even, on my instruction, cheered every time I mentioned George Clooney, which I did often. At one point, some people cheered in advance of a mention of George Clooney, which I really loved. They really are a nice crowd. Among them, this year, were Kris Marshall, star of one of the shortlisted films, The Amazing Trousers (and, coincidentally, the first ever winner of TCM Classic Shorts in 2000, Je T’Aime John Wayne), Paul McGann, star of the second prizewinner, Always Crashing In The Same Car, opposite – history being made alert! – Richard E Grant, and Zoe Ball and Norman Cook, as Zoe was the producer of the aforementioned film. (It was nice to see the south coast’s favourite couple afterwards – Norman expressed sympathy for the fact that my mask joke had fallen flat. I knew it had, which is why, when I returned to the stage after we’d watched all six films, I wore a second cheap Halloween mask, and thus rescued my joke through sheer commitment. What a pro.) I was really pleased to meet Paul Andrew Williams, writer and director of the best debut of last year, London To Brighton. He was one of the TCM judges this year and had expressed trepidation about presenting the second prize because he’s a bit shy, but I talked him into it, and it was good to have him up there. (Filmmakers love other filmmakers, especially ones who’ve enjoyed the whirlwind success of Paul Andrew Williams, who’s now in post on his second film, The Cottage, and has just had a baby, four weeks ago, so is permanently knackered. He made it to the after-show party, at some lurid club in Kingly Street, where I imagine the DJ was a little self-conscious about having Fat Boy Slim in the same room. A few nibbles, a nice chat to the BFI’s Dick Fiddy about The Sopranos and barge holidays, and to a nice lady from TCM Germany who was very excited that I had mentioned Berlin Alexanderplatz twice in my speech, and I was out of there before the goody bags had even been lined up. Last year’s contained some nail varnish that stunk out the taxi.

Here is the actual envelope Nik Powell opened.

TCM envelope

A good night. Have a look at the short films. They’re very good. I think my favourite is the German entry Cocoon, probably because I’m in a German cinema frame of mind currently, but there’s not a duff one among the six. The ceremony wasn’t being televised this year, so I said “fuck” quite a lot, but I think it was appropriate. And I never called Jonathan Ross’s wife a pig.

28 thoughts on “Scary

  1. Shame they’re restricted to a ghetto channel on satellite. I would have liked to see them. they should put them online, don’t you think? Can you give us a sample of this speech, which is rather tantalisingly described here?

  2. Shame they’re restricted to a ghetto channel on satellite. I would have liked to see them. they should put them online, don’t you think? Can you give us a sample of this speech, which is rather tantalisingly described here?

  3. TCM’s on Freeview. Anyway, the six shortlisted films are online.My speech, the Short History Of Film, went like this (you’ll have to insert your own comic pauses):1894 The cinematograph is invented by the Americans. Or the Germans. Or the French. Or the English. Depending on who you ask. The first film ever shown is of a man sneezing. Or some women leaving a factory. Or a man and a woman feeding their baby. Or a boy standing on a gardener’s hose. Or a train arriving in a station. Depending on who you ask.What we do know is that the second film ever shown is Train Arriving In A Station II. And the third is Train Arriving In A Station III: This Time It’s Personal, which cost three times as much to make and nobody goes to see.1961 George Clooney is born in Lexington, Kentucky. Hooray!Sorry, I’ve skipped a bit . . .1902 Georges Melies invents special effects with the 14-minute Le Voyage dans la Lune, or Trip To The Moon, using models, painted backdrops, stop-frame animation and fake snow. French critics denounce this technique, saying it detracts from the narrative. 1903 French critics change their mind and hail Georges Melies as the first auteur.1909 The New York film industry starts making films in an orange grove in the suburbs of Los Angeles called Hollywood. Because, they say, the people are more “real”.1915 DW Griffith releases the Civil War epic Birth Of A Nation, in which the Ku Klux Klan are depicted as honest lawmen, and blacks are depicted as lawless savages who don’t wear shoes and eat chicken all day. “A triumph!” writes Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail.1927 The Jazz Singer ushers in the sound era, when Al Jolson utters the immortal words, “You had me at hello.” The popularity of “talkies” cause audiences in cinemas to shut up. For a couple of years.1937 Walt Disney releases first ever feature length animation, Snow White and the Seven Klansmen: Grumpy, Hoody, Racisty, Southerny, Kuey, Kluxy and Klanny.1939 All British films become wartime propaganda, with such titles as Take That, Adolf, In Which We Give Adolf A Jolly Good Thrashing and Dude, Where Are Our American Allies?1941 All American films become wartime propaganda, with such titles as, Sorry We’re Late, What Have I Missed? and Where Are The English Girls At?1943 Howard Hughes designs special bra for Jane Russell in his western The Outlaw. The Catholic League For Decency demands its removal. 1944 Film noir invented. It’s copied off the Germans, and named by the French. Shares in Venetian blinds go through the roof.1947 Charlie Chaplin goes a bit shit. French critics decide they really like him.1949 Carol Reed becomes Britain’s first female film director.1950 In the era of McCarthyism, the Hollywood blacklist is published, containing names of 151 known black people. Fortunately, over half turn out to be white people blacked up, who are let off.1953 People stop going to the cinema and stay in to watch TV instead. All cinemas turned into bingo halls.1956 Sci-fi films reflect Communist paranoia in America, with allegorical titles like Invasion Of The Communists, The Day The Earth Went Communist and The Incredible Shrinking Communist.1959 Nouvelle vague invented in France by some film critics. Film critics denounce themselves, saying it’s just a load of jump-cuts. 1960 Hollywood copies nouvelle vague.1961 George Clooney is born in Lexington, Kentucky. Hooray!1968 Planet of the Apes opens. “Oh, so the monkeys have got a Statue of Liberty as well!” says a stupid person. [Can’t remember who I stole this off, sorry, but they should come forward and claim their glory.]1973 Controversy surrounds sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now. Did they actually do it? No. They’re both actors. Of course they didn’t do it.1978 Halloween released. George Clooney attends North Kentucky University. Gets off with girls.1979 John Wayne dies, best known for playing John Wayne in Stagecoach, John Wayne in True Grit, John Wayne in The Searchers and John Wayne in Wayne’s World. 1981 Controversy surrounds sex scene between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Did they actually do it? No, they didn’t.1982 CGI invented. Tron is declared the future of moviemaking. Georges Melies turns in grave, using ropes and pulleys. 1983 After gay pilot film Top Gun, Tom Cruise becomes the biggest box office draw in world, if not, by some margin, the tallest. 1989 CGI has another go, with The Abyss. The world goes, “Oh alright then,” and all films are now made using digital technology.1998 George Clooney becomes a proper movie star. All films are now made using George Clooney.1999 Tom Cruise and wife Nicole Kidman appear in last ever film by Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut. Controversy surrounds sex scenes between them. Did they … no.2006 George Clooney finally wins the Oscar he so richly deserves. 2007 Train Arriving In A Station IV goes into development.Perhaps you had to be there.

  4. TCM’s on Freeview. Anyway, the six shortlisted films are online.My speech, the Short History Of Film, went like this (you’ll have to insert your own comic pauses):1894 The cinematograph is invented by the Americans. Or the Germans. Or the French. Or the English. Depending on who you ask. The first film ever shown is of a man sneezing. Or some women leaving a factory. Or a man and a woman feeding their baby. Or a boy standing on a gardener’s hose. Or a train arriving in a station. Depending on who you ask.What we do know is that the second film ever shown is Train Arriving In A Station II. And the third is Train Arriving In A Station III: This Time It’s Personal, which cost three times as much to make and nobody goes to see.1961 George Clooney is born in Lexington, Kentucky. Hooray!Sorry, I’ve skipped a bit . . .1902 Georges Melies invents special effects with the 14-minute Le Voyage dans la Lune, or Trip To The Moon, using models, painted backdrops, stop-frame animation and fake snow. French critics denounce this technique, saying it detracts from the narrative. 1903 French critics change their mind and hail Georges Melies as the first auteur.1909 The New York film industry starts making films in an orange grove in the suburbs of Los Angeles called Hollywood. Because, they say, the people are more “real”.1915 DW Griffith releases the Civil War epic Birth Of A Nation, in which the Ku Klux Klan are depicted as honest lawmen, and blacks are depicted as lawless savages who don’t wear shoes and eat chicken all day. “A triumph!” writes Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail.1927 The Jazz Singer ushers in the sound era, when Al Jolson utters the immortal words, “You had me at hello.” The popularity of “talkies” cause audiences in cinemas to shut up. For a couple of years.1937 Walt Disney releases first ever feature length animation, Snow White and the Seven Klansmen: Grumpy, Hoody, Racisty, Southerny, Kuey, Kluxy and Klanny.1939 All British films become wartime propaganda, with such titles as Take That, Adolf, In Which We Give Adolf A Jolly Good Thrashing and Dude, Where Are Our American Allies?1941 All American films become wartime propaganda, with such titles as, Sorry We’re Late, What Have I Missed? and Where Are The English Girls At?1943 Howard Hughes designs special bra for Jane Russell in his western The Outlaw. The Catholic League For Decency demands its removal. 1944 Film noir invented. It’s copied off the Germans, and named by the French. Shares in Venetian blinds go through the roof.1947 Charlie Chaplin goes a bit shit. French critics decide they really like him.1949 Carol Reed becomes Britain’s first female film director.1950 In the era of McCarthyism, the Hollywood blacklist is published, containing names of 151 known black people. Fortunately, over half turn out to be white people blacked up, who are let off.1953 People stop going to the cinema and stay in to watch TV instead. All cinemas turned into bingo halls.1956 Sci-fi films reflect Communist paranoia in America, with allegorical titles like Invasion Of The Communists, The Day The Earth Went Communist and The Incredible Shrinking Communist.1959 Nouvelle vague invented in France by some film critics. Film critics denounce themselves, saying it’s just a load of jump-cuts. 1960 Hollywood copies nouvelle vague.1961 George Clooney is born in Lexington, Kentucky. Hooray!1968 Planet of the Apes opens. “Oh, so the monkeys have got a Statue of Liberty as well!” says a stupid person. [Can’t remember who I stole this off, sorry, but they should come forward and claim their glory.]1973 Controversy surrounds sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now. Did they actually do it? No. They’re both actors. Of course they didn’t do it.1978 Halloween released. George Clooney attends North Kentucky University. Gets off with girls.1979 John Wayne dies, best known for playing John Wayne in Stagecoach, John Wayne in True Grit, John Wayne in The Searchers and John Wayne in Wayne’s World. 1981 Controversy surrounds sex scene between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Did they actually do it? No, they didn’t.1982 CGI invented. Tron is declared the future of moviemaking. Georges Melies turns in grave, using ropes and pulleys. 1983 After gay pilot film Top Gun, Tom Cruise becomes the biggest box office draw in world, if not, by some margin, the tallest. 1989 CGI has another go, with The Abyss. The world goes, “Oh alright then,” and all films are now made using digital technology.1998 George Clooney becomes a proper movie star. All films are now made using George Clooney.1999 Tom Cruise and wife Nicole Kidman appear in last ever film by Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut. Controversy surrounds sex scenes between them. Did they … no.2006 George Clooney finally wins the Oscar he so richly deserves. 2007 Train Arriving In A Station IV goes into development.Perhaps you had to be there.

  5. Sorry to do this Andrew but… In Word magazine earlier this year, and later discussed on the Word podcast, it was agreed that wearers of three-button jackets should observe the following rules. Middle – always; top – sometimes; bottom – never. I’m sure there would have been a lecturn to hide your sartorial blunder…

  6. Sorry to do this Andrew but… In Word magazine earlier this year, and later discussed on the Word podcast, it was agreed that wearers of three-button jackets should observe the following rules. Middle – always; top – sometimes; bottom – never. I’m sure there would have been a lecturn to hide your sartorial blunder…

  7. Excellent.. thankyou so much Andrew. No, I don’t think I had to be there, because I chuckled my way all through that. Lots of good gags. Much funnier than Rob Newman (that’s a compliment just in case you were wondering).And ta for the link, I’ll watch the films.

  8. Excellent.. thankyou so much Andrew. No, I don’t think I had to be there, because I chuckled my way all through that. Lots of good gags. Much funnier than Rob Newman (that’s a compliment just in case you were wondering).And ta for the link, I’ll watch the films.

  9. Very good history. Funnier than Rob Newman (which I thought had its moments) and broadly accurate. I was at a do last week in fact hosted by TV’s Michael Buerk. Whilst a jovial host, his material was, intriguingly, slightly blue.Short fans might like to be aware of 7 inch Cinema who run regular events showing all sorts of short films, including the odd pop promo if it fits. They are based in Birmingham, but they do tour. Next week they’re in Norwich, for example. This is not advertising. I’m not connected to them other than by attending their events (though they do also run something called the “Flatpack Festival”…)

  10. Very good history. Funnier than Rob Newman (which I thought had its moments) and broadly accurate. I was at a do last week in fact hosted by TV’s Michael Buerk. Whilst a jovial host, his material was, intriguingly, slightly blue.Short fans might like to be aware of 7 inch Cinema who run regular events showing all sorts of short films, including the odd pop promo if it fits. They are based in Birmingham, but they do tour. Next week they’re in Norwich, for example. This is not advertising. I’m not connected to them other than by attending their events (though they do also run something called the “Flatpack Festival”…)

  11. I’ll look out for the film, but in the meantime, I must say that the photo shows the most impressive collection of manly chins I’ve seen in a long while.

  12. I’ll look out for the film, but in the meantime, I must say that the photo shows the most impressive collection of manly chins I’ve seen in a long while.

  13. I just loved your presentation. I cheered like a maniac when you mentioned George Clooney (but then maybe it was nerves!!), found the history of film hilarious, (although as a French man, I KNOW that the first film ever made was French…) and I thought the masks were very appropriate.So well done you and thanks for an great evening.Stephane Cornicard aka Jean Dubois,Hapless truffle hunter in A bout de Truffe.

  14. I just loved your presentation. I cheered like a maniac when you mentioned George Clooney (but then maybe it was nerves!!), found the history of film hilarious, (although as a French man, I KNOW that the first film ever made was French…) and I thought the masks were very appropriate.So well done you and thanks for an great evening.Stephane Cornicard aka Jean Dubois,Hapless truffle hunter in A bout de Truffe.

  15. Stephane: you’re a gentleman! Congratulations on the big win! (Saw the film again last night on TCM – it’s a very subtle and moving performance, considering you have to fall in love with a giant truffle and sleep in a bed with a small pig.)

  16. Stephane: you’re a gentleman! Congratulations on the big win! (Saw the film again last night on TCM – it’s a very subtle and moving performance, considering you have to fall in love with a giant truffle and sleep in a bed with a small pig.)

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