Stars, royals gather for British Academy Film Awards

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Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 10, 2019. (Reuters)
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Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 10, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 11 February 2019
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Stars, royals gather for British Academy Film Awards

LONDON: Hollywood stars and British royalty were gathering Sunday in London for the British Academy Film Awards, where “The Favourite” is living up to its name and leading the race for trophies.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ royal tragicomedy has 12 nominations, including best picture, for the UK equivalent of the Oscars. Olivia Colman already won a Golden Globe for her performance as Queen Anne in “The Favourite” and is favored to take the best-actress prize
The 18th-century queen’s distant relative, Prince William, and his wife, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, were joining Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis and other stars for a black-tie ceremony at London’s Royal Albert Hall. “Absolutely Fabulous” star Joanna Lumley is the host.
Front-runners for the prizes include the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” lunar drama “First Man,” autobiographical Mexican story “Roma” and musical melodrama “A Star Is Born.” Each film has seven nominations.
The awards, known as BAFTAs , will be scoured for clues to who might triumph at Hollywood’s Academy Awards on Feb. 24, in what’s shaping up as an unpredictable awards season.
Colman is up against Glenn Close, who took Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards for “The Wife.” The other best-actress nominees are Lady Gaga for “A Star is Born,” Viola Davis for “Widows” and Melissa McCarthy for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?“
“I feel like I’m in a fever dream,” said McCarthy of recognition for the offbeat film, based on the story of a real literary forger.
Her “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” co-star Richard E. Grant has secured both BAFTA and Oscar nominations for his performance as an affable rogue.
“I’ve been working for 40 years, I’ve never won anything,” said Grant, who called this awards season “the ride of my lifetime.”
Best-actor contenders are Bradley Cooper for “A Star is Born,” Christian Bale for “Vice,” Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Viggo Mortensen for “Green Book” and Steve Coogan for “Stan and Ollie.”
Best-picture nominees are “The Favourite,” Roma,” “A Star is Born” and two very different movies about racism in America: “Green Book” and “BlacKkKlansman.”
Nominees for best British film — a separate category — are Channel Islands thriller “Beast,” “The Favourite,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” fashion documentary “McQueen,” Laurel and Hardy biopic “Stan and Ollie” and crime thriller “You Were Never Really Here.”
British academy voters have all but ignored superhero blockbuster “Black Panther,” which is up for best picture at the Oscars and took top prize at the SAG awards last month. It has a single BAFTA nomination, for visual effects.
The red carpet glamor is unfolding against a backdrop of soul-searching and scandal about abuses in the entertainment industry.
Last week, the British academy suspended director Bryan Singer’s nomination as part of the team behind “Bohemian Rhapsody” after four men accused him of sexually assaulting them when they were minors.
BAFTA said the alleged abuse was “completely unacceptable” and incompatible with its values. Singer, who was fired while “Bohemian Rhapsody” was in mid-production in 2017, denies the allegations. The film itself is still nominated.
At last year’s BAFTAs ceremony, many women wore black as a symbol of opposition to harassment, abuse and inequality in the wake of allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
A British wing of the “Times’s Up” campaign founded last year is vowing to keep the campaign going and to double the number of women in film, on and off screen.
The number of female nominees is up this year, but there has been criticism of the academy’s failure to nominate any female filmmakers in the best-director category. Only one woman has ever won the directing prize, Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.
BAFTA chairwoman Pippa Harris said only 10 percent of films entered for the awards were directed by women.
“It needs to be 50 percent,” said Harris, who called the gender imbalance an industry-wide problem.
“There has been a traditional problem with getting females to be noticed in terms of their TV work and then get picked up to make feature films,” she said. “Men seem to find that transition much easier.”


Tourists follow ‘Game of Thrones’ trail in Northern Ireland

Updated 20 April 2019
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Tourists follow ‘Game of Thrones’ trail in Northern Ireland

  • Since the series began in 2011, fans have started to flock to the coastal caves and ruined castles of the British province where much of the show was shot
  • Tourism Northern Ireland estimates the magical show drew 120,000 visitors to the province in 2016

BELFAST: Wielding a replica broadsword, Indian tourist Akshay Mannur duels with friends — re-enacting scenes from “Game of Thrones” on the Northern Ireland pilgrimage trail for devotees of the blockbuster fantasy TV show.
Since the blood and guts series began its rise to prominence in 2011, fans have started to flock to the coastal caves and ruined castles of the British province where much of the HBO television production was shot.
“Every new step is like something new, it’s more than my expectations,” 23-year-old student Mannur marvelled.
“It’s a beautiful country — Northern Ireland is just amazing.”

Tourism Northern Ireland estimates the magical show — in its final season — drew 120,000 visitors to the province in 2016, generating £30 million (35 million euros, $39 million).
One in six visitors now comes to Northern Ireland to visit shooting locations, according to their estimates.
Along the largely coastal trail, a short drive outside the capital of Belfast, that popularity is clear to see.
A steady hum of buses and coaches are marshalled in and out of parking lots on strict schedules, and sleepy village shops throng with tourists.
“The last week, I think on Saturday past, we had a bus with 24 nationalities on it,” said tour guide Patrick Rogan at the mouth of the Cushendun Caves, the site of a pivotal plot point in the series.
“We had people from Patagonia, from New Zealand, from Japan, from Russia, from South Korea and Europe, so I think that tells its own story.”
Since 2012 his employer — the “Stones and Thrones” tour — has offered daily outings out of Belfast, manned mainly by guides who have acted as extras on the show.
Today they run at least two full buses a day, he said, competing with at least four other companies offering a similar service.
Other more bespoke tour services offer immersive experiences — axe-throwing, archery, and photo opportunities with a pair of wolves that starred in the epic series.

A popular comparison holds that “Game of Thrones” is to Northern Ireland tourism what “Lord of the Rings” has been to New Zealand.
But Northern Ireland’s very recent bloody past during the so-called ‘Troubles’ — when 3,500 were killed in 30 years of sectarian strife — makes the boom particularly welcome.
“The dark history that was here is coming out,” said Irish actor Liam Cunningham, a stalwart character in the series now feted as the most expensive to ever be filmed for the small screen.
“The place is blooming, and for us to have this show here and be part of that transition is joyful.”

Cunningham was speaking at the opening of a touring exhibition of costume and scenery pieces in Belfast, the same week as the new season of the series premiered.
Ranked displays of dragon skulls, intricately crafted weapons and interactive exhibits are preceded by a gallery of landscape prints, depicting the countryside shooting locations.
A caption on one image reads “Views to die horribly for,” whilst another reads “Sun, sea and savagery,” referring to the show’s reputation for bloodily killing off major characters.
They are testament to the canny local tourist board, making efforts to cement the link between their territory and the series.
“I think our association with such a global success helps to transform the image of Northern Ireland across the globe,” said John McGrillen, chief executive of Tourism Northern Ireland.
“In many ways that gives you PR that you just simply couldn’t buy.”
With the final season of “Game of Thrones” under way, the fever pitch devotion to the series may be about to end.
But with spin-off projects in the pipeline and a studio tour development due to open in Northern Ireland next year, the province still hopes for tourism revenues.
“We think this still has longevity,” said McGrillen.