This year saw the launch of The Contenders London, and on Friday 6th October. Paul Brett and Hannah Yates were invited to attend the inaugural event, which was held at BAFTA’s 195 Piccadilly headquarters. Deadline Hollywood has been eager to introduce BAFTA, Academy and Guild voters in the UK to some of the most prolific names in cinema through The Contenders platform for some time.
The Contenders London event allowed international filmmakers and artists to showcase this year’s latest blockbusters and independent features side by side. The schedule was split into morning and afternoon presentations that allowed for the contending studios to show clips of their strongest candidates to a selection of industry specialists. With the rising popularity of online streaming, it was interesting to see the likes of Amazon Studios brushing shoulders with big league players like Walt Disney Studios.
The exclusive event provided an opportunity for London based guild voters and BAFTA members to get a better understanding of the backstory of the films from the international artists and talent themselves. British and Irish industry insiders presented alongside names from New Zealand, Australia and the US, highlighting the fact that the awards circuit is on a much more global scale than ever before.
The local British talent in attendance featured names such as Claire Foy, who introduced Bleeker Street and Participant Media’s Breathe, which is Andy Serkis’ directorial debut. British/Indian author Shrabani Basu represented Focus Features’ Victoria & Abdul, the film based on her book of the same name.
American director, writer and producer Noah Baumbach presented the coveted Netflix release The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) alongside actors Dustin Hoffman and Adam Sandler, while Australian actors Garrett Hedlund and Jason Clarke joined American director Dee Rees and actor Jason Mitchell to present Mudbound, another Netflix original release.
The Contenders London event celebrated everyone involved in the filmmaking process, from artists to distributors and production companies, which is why Hannah and Paul were invited to join the celebrations. Valhalla has invested over £500 million in entertainment media, including property investments such as The King’s Speech, A Street Cat Named Bob, Chef and Harry Brown.
As well as being provided a catered lunch in the prestigious David Lean room, after the presentations guests got the chance to liaise with the artists and industry specialists that had spoken during the day at a post-event reception, which was sponsored by Netflix. It was a great opportunity to meet the faces behind the big industry names, and to get an inside take on the films that everyone will be talking about during the run up to awards season.