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The_Hollywood_Reporter__February_07_2018

Backlot BAFTA SO HOW IS

Backlot BAFTA SO HOW IS THREE BILLBOARDS BRITISH? W ith Stephen Fry having given up his hosting duties after a record 12 editions, BAFTA has turned to arguably an even bigger British national treasure for its latest awards ceremony: Joanna Lumley, who will be taking the reins Feb. 18 at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall. Ahead of the biggest film awards outside the U.S., Lumley explains why she won’t be making any political gags, how the British equivalent of #MeToo might look on the night and whether her most famous onscreen character — Absolutely Fabulous’ champers-guzzling Patsy — will be making an appearance. Do you have any nerves about stepping into Stephen Fry’s welltrodden BAFTA shoes? Stephen is a huge friend of mine. I shall do my level best to fit into those huge shoes. He’s such a consummate, easy, welcoming, darling host, but we’re different. So I shan’t copy him, because you can’t do that. I’ll just do my best to be me and make everyone welcome. Has he given you any tips? He said something terribly funny but very true: Nobody has ever complained that an awards ceremony is too short. He also told me to remember that our job is as host. We’re not the main entertainment; we are literally the host. We’re the silken strands that join people together. Do you think this will be a newer, revamped BAFTAs with you at the helm? I don’t really want it to change. There’s something quite serious about all this. We’re the British academy, and the Oscars are the American academy, so this is the senior prefects’ table. Any particular hosting style you like and might try to emulate? I do a lot of awards ceremonies, so I’m used to the whole easing people on, easing people off, mopping their tears. But I’m not a stand-up ‘ My Part Is to Be Quite Dignified’ Joanna Lumley plans her BAFTA takeover By Alex Ritman comic. I’m not a satirist. I’m not a political commentator. People know me because I’ve been banging around the block for 100 years, so why would I be someone completely different? You’ve already said you won’t be pulling out any Weinstein gags. How about Trump? Brexit? I’m not really going to do any heavy political commentary, because for people who do come up and have something to say, it’s absolutely up to them. It’s their night, it’s not mine. My part is to be quite dignified, but if everyone else wants to put their pants on their head and scream, that’s fine by me. How do you think the #MeToo movement seen at the Golden Globes will translate to the BAFTAs? It’s going to be so interesting. I noticed at the SAG Awards all the girls were in gorgeous dresses. So maybe the Golden Globes British Academy Film Awards Feb. 18 Royal Albert Hall was the [only] night of wearing black to protest. I’ll just see whether people are still feeling enough of it to warrant it going on or feeling that we’ve got to look to the future. We all know … it’s all out in the open now. The Golden Globes have made everyone so aware of it. How about yourself, will you be wearing black? I don’t think so. But let’s put it like this: I won’t be wearing shocking pink. I want to look like a dignified host. But I do think I’m going to look pretty fab, not showy. Any temptations to give Patsy a brief whirl onstage, perhaps brandishing a glass of champagne? Well, I know I won’t be allowed a glass of Bolly onstage, but sometimes Patsy creeps through. She doesn’t mean to, but sometimes she just has to have a word. I’ll try to keep her under control for the night! Martin McDonagh’s Midwestern drama is up for a best Brit BAFTA At the 2017 BAFTA Awards, the outstanding British film honor went to Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, a gritty human tale about a carpenter from the north of England and his nearexcruciating struggle to navigate the U.K.’s bureaucratic benefits system after having a heart attack. In other words, extremely British. This year, among a crop of equally British titles sits a rather unusual entry. The nomination of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, despite director Martin McDonagh’s burgundy British passport, has caused a little confusion in the U.S. Not only is the film’s main cast almost exclusively American, but it also was shot in North Carolina, is based on a real-life American story and even includes the words “Ebbing, Missouri” right there in the title. How, exactly, is this film British? The answer can be found in BAFTA’s myriad list of rules and regulations. To qualify for the outstanding British film category, the rules state that a film must “have significant creative involvement by individuals who are British (U.K. passport holders or permanent resident in the U.K. for at least 10 years up to and including the eligibility period).” Alongside McDonagh, Three Billboards was produced by the British duo of Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin for their Blueprint Pictures (headquartered on London’s Great Portland Street), with half the funding coming from Film4, the movie arm of U.K. network Channel 4. “A film like this — which doesn’t look remotely British — does seem to crop up each year,” admits one industry insider. As it happens, last year there were two: American Honey (backed by Film4 and the British Film Institute) and Under the Shadow (which was in Farsi but produced by U.K.-based Wigwam Films). And in 2016, the winner was Brooklyn, named after the borough but produced by Brits, written by a Brit and backed by BBC Films. — A.R. Woody Harrelson (left) and Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. LUMLEY: MATT HOLYOAK/BAFTA/CAMERA PRESS/REDUX. THREE: MERRICK MORTON/TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER 80 FEBRUARY 7, 2018

SJIWFF29 • OCTOBER 17–21, 2018 ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA WOMENSFILMFESTIVAL.COM

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