12 Brilliant British Films We Didn’t See at BAFTA

Monday, February 15, 2016

The BAFTAs last night recognised a host of excellent film talent but, with so many of the nominees and winners being big-budget, big-publicity, big-name films and actors from the USA, it can be easy to lose sight of the incredible filmmaking talent that Britain is famous for.

As the British Independent Film Awards, it is our job to recognise and celebrate that talent not only at our ceremony in December, but throughout the year. Here are 12 incredible British films that didn’t make the cut at BAFTA, but that all film fans need to watch.

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Aaaaaaaah! 

Alpha Male Smith and his Beta, Keith, who try to make a move to take over their local community. They hook up with restless Female, Denise, igniting a deadly feud in which emotions run high and deep-seated grudges re-surface amongst the tribe. Are we not men? Or are we simply beasts? Shot entirely in a language of grunts and gibberish, Steve Oram’s debut feature is a celluloid primal scream – an anarchic, hilarious, disturbing and touching look at the human condition.

Nominated for the Discovery Award, BIFA 2015. Watch on iTunes.

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Burn Burn Burn 

Following the death of their friend, two girls in their twenties embark on a road trip to spread his ashes. Seph and Alex take turns driving. Dan is in the glove compartment, in tupperware, decreasing in volume as the trip progresses. Charlie Covell and Chanya Button’s debut feature played at the BFI LFF in 2015, and features British stars Laura Carmichael, Joe Dempsie and Alice Lowe.

Nominated for the Discovery Award, BIFA 2015

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Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance 

Dark Horse tells the larger than life true story of how a barmaid in a former mining village in South Wales bred a racehorse on her allotment that went on to become a champion. Convincing a handful of locals to part with ten pound a week for her scheme, she found a thoroughbred mare with a terrible racing record for £300, a stallion past his best, put them together and – against all the odds – bred a winner.

Best Documentary winner, BIFA 2015. Watch on the BFI Player.

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How to Change the World

In 1971, a group of friends sail into a nuclear test zone and their protest captures the world’s imagination, giving birth to Greenpeace and defining the modern green movement. Media savvy from the beginning, these pioneers captured their seat-of their pants activist adventures on 16mm film. From this vivid archive and sly narration by Robert Hunter, an early guiding force of the organization, Jerry Rothwell has created a thrilling, sometimes terrifying film.  

Nominated for Best Documentary, BIFA 2015. Watch on iTunes.

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Macbeth

Macbeth is the story of a fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire. A thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times and a reimagining of what wartime must have been like for one of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling characters, a story of all-consuming passion and ambition, set in war torn Scottish landscape.

Nominated for Best British Independent Film, Best Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Actress (Marion Cotillard), Best Supporting Actor (Sean Harris), Best Director (Justin Kurzel) & Outstanding Achievement in Craft (Adam Arkapaw, Cinematography), BIFA 2015. Watch on iTunes.

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Nina Forever 

A fucked up fairy tale. Holly loves Rob and tries to help him through his grief – even if it means contending with his dead girlfriend Nina, who comes back, bloody and broken, every time they make love.

Most Promising Newcomer winner (Abigail Hardingham), nominated for the Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director (Chris & Ben Blaine), BIFA 2015. Watch now in cinemas near you!

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Palio

The Palio is the oldest horse race in the world, and turns the Italian city of Siena into a high-stakes battleground of strategy, intrigue, and simmering machismo. In the eye of the storm stand the jockeys – adored if they succeed, despised if they fail. Palio follows the legendary maestro Gigi Bruschelli, winner of 13 races and master of the intrigues that surround the Palio, and his former protégé Giovanni Atzeni, a handsome young contender driven by a fearless passion to become number one. This heart-racing new documentary exposes the notoriously closed world of this ancient race and the larger-than-life personalities of those involved in an epic and cinematic tale of Italian life in microcosm.

Nominated for Best Documentary, BIFA 2015. Watch on iTunes.

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Slow West

Set in 19th Century Colorado but undeniably European in sensibility, Slow West tells the story of sixteen-year-old Jay Cavendish as he travels from Scotland to Colorado in pursuit of his lost love. He is quickly confronted by the dangers of the Frontier and so teams up with a mysterious traveller named Silas, who agrees to protect him – for a price. Jay’s quest will be one of double-crossing, violence and peril as the guileless adolescent learns that the West takes no pity, least of all on the innocent.

Nominated for the Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director (John Maclean), BIFA 2015.
Watch on iTunes.

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The Hallow

When a London-based conservationist is sent to Ireland with his wife and infant child to survey an area of forest believed to be hallowed ground by superstitious locals, his actions unwittingly disturb a horde of demonic creatures who prey upon the lost. Alone and deep within the darkness of the remote wilderness, he must now fight back to protect his family against the ancient forces’ relentless attacks. Starring Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic, The Hallow marks acclaimed visual stylist Corin Hardy’s feature directorial debut. Hardy, who has recently been tapped by Relativity Studios to direct its remake The Crow, displays a technical elegance and sophisticated approach to the macabre in this modern and disquieting horror fable.

Nominated for the Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director (Corin Hardy), BIFA 2015. Watch on iTunes.

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The Return

Jack returns to London after three years in exile and immediately goes in search for the next job. On discovering that his old connections have gone cold, he sets about making his own luck and decides to target rich business people in the city. When a job goes wrong, Jack is left fighting for his life against an enemy who is far more powerful and devious than he could ever have imagined, sending him on a collision course with a catastrophic secret.

Nominated for the Discovery Award, BIFA 2015.

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The Violators 

After testifying against her abusive father, Shelly finds herself rehoused on a sink estate she can barely call home. A petty thief, Shelly spends her days roaming the estate and docklands in search of opportunities. When she attracts the attention of estate loan shark and groomer Mikey Finnegan, Shelly finds herself thrust under the watchful gaze of a mysterious stranger, Rachel. As Shelly’s relationship with Mikey develops, so does Rachel’s fixation with Shelly. The shock-revelation that Shelly’s father is to be given early parole forces Shelly to make a decision that will alter the fates of all three of them – forever. Set amid the desolate beauty of a post-industrial wasteland, The Violators is a meditation on the meaning of home, and the potency and fragility of young girls’ sexuality.

Nominated for the Producer of the Year Award, BIFA 2015

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Winter

Forty something, foul-mouthed and aggressive, with an unquenchable thirst for booze and fags, when we first meet Woods Weston he appears to be a hopeless case. But, as the narrative unfolds, it reveals a once successful and charismatic man capable of great sensitivity, an accomplished artist, a loving husband and a committed father. Tommy Flanagan stars as a father consumed by grief who must come to terms with an emotional breakdown in order to save his relationship with his two young sons, 19 year-old Tom and 14 year-old Max; deeply moving and visually arresting, Winter is a poignant exploration of love, loss and family bonds.

Nominated for the Discovery Award, BIFA 2015

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Not had enough of top British indie films? Take a look at our article The Best of British: Films Nominated for BIFAs, BAFTAs and Oscars, 2015-2016.

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