Screen and Film School Birmingham’s very own Hannah Stevenson wins prestigious National Film Award
A busy summer is unfolding in Birmingham, as our new college in Digbeth is being built as quickly and as impressively as possible, which will allow for a successful opening when the academic year begins in September.
Like all building projects there is uncertainty over what goes where and who needs what – but one thing that is set in stone is the success story of Eaten by Lions, a beguiling British comedy that was produced by our very own Hannah Stevenson, your College Principle when Screen and Film School Birmingham launches at the end of summer. Between building work and bits of bricks and mortar, Hannah recently found the time to introduce us to the Director in order to discuss the film, but before we share the full details, here is the official trailer to whet your appetite:
Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian’s chief film critic awarded four stars to Eaten by Lions, calling it “a thoroughly likeable feelgood film,” back in 2019 when the film was released in cinemas. The nomination for Best Comedy was announced in early 2020 but the National Film Awards were then postponed, for obvious reasons. A year and half later and Eaten by Lions finally scooped the prize – a huge achievement for everyone involved. Alongside Hannah as Producer, the screenplay was co-written by David Isaac and Jason Wingard, with Jason Wingard calling the shots as director. The cast included a number of Britain’s best loved comic talents, such as Jack Carroll, Asim Chaudhry, Johnny Vegas, Vicki Pepperdine, and Kevin Eldon.
As well as the household names, Antonio Aakeel was cast in the lead role of Omar. Antonio also joined the Screen and Film School Birmingham team as a Patron for our inaugural year.
The story focuses on half-brothers Omar and Pete. When their Gran dies, she leaves them a biscuit tin full of clues to help them find Omar’s birth father. This triggers a road trip and a journey of self-discovery for both boys from Blackpool.
When asked to discuss the origin of the film, Director Jason Wingard had this to say:
“The film was written with Jack Carroll and Asim Chaudhry in mind. Both are fantastic comic performers, and we knew right away we wanted them in the film. I had worked with Jack Carroll, Johnny Vegas, Peter Slater and Tom Binns before. They are all a joy to work with and supremely talented. We then cast Nitin Ganatra, Hayley Tamaddon, Natalie Davies, Vicki Pepperdine and Kevin Eldon and for me it was like working with your comedy heroes. I’m so delighted this film has been made. It very much feels like we’ve formed a close-knit group of cast and crew and hopefully we will all get to collaborate again.”
And what was Jason’s take on the plot?
“I always wanted to make a progressive comedy. The story is about the importance of family, and we wanted to draw attention away from stuff like Jack’s disability. I wanted the viewer to forget about it and just treat him as a character. The story deals with big contemporary issues (class, diversity, disability, inter-racial relations, foster and adoption, sexuality, love, life and death) in a sharp and often irreverent way. But it is not about those big issues it is about people and relationships.”
The prestigious NFA award win saw Eaten by Lions pip other huge hits such as Blinded by the Light and Yesterday to the post.
Our College Principal Hannah discussed her feelings about the great news:
“The National Film Awards are voted for by the public, so it is wonderful that Eaten by Lions has brought a smile to so many people. A big thank you to all the people that voted for us. I have had my fingers crossed for a long time! As Producer, I am responsible for managing the project from start to finish, so it is lovely to receive this recognition. It is really a credit to the whole team, on and off screen, who worked hard to make the film so special.”
Echoing Hannah’s sentiments, Director and Writer Wingard has the final say on the award win:
“We are extremely proud to win the National Film award – we had a great cast and crew on the film and on their behalf, we would like to thank everyone who has voted. A great achievement for everyone involved.”
Eaten by Lions is available to stream on Sky, Now TV and Amazon Prime, iTunes and Hannah Stevenson looks forward to greeting our new students at Screen and Film School Birmingham from September.