Richard Holmes in Film & TV


‘Orion’ Wins Best International Documentary in Barcelona

Earlier this month, Creative England-backed music documentary, ‘Orion: The Man Who Would Be King’ nabbed another festival award, this time from Barcelona’s Beefeater In-Edit film festival.

Nottingham-based director, Jeanie Finlay’s stranger than fiction tale of Jimmy 'Orion' Ellis , a singer marketed by Sun Records as "Elvis returned from the dead", won the title of Best International Documentary alongside Julien Temple’s ‘The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson’.

The Beefeater In-Edit festival focuses on the close relationship between music and cinema, screening the best of music documentaries from across the globe; so it’s no mean feat that Finlay’s ‘Orion’ stood out amongst a sea of other music-centric productions. With sister festivals in Chile, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Puebla and Berlin, the Barcelona iteration of In-Edit family remains the flagship festival, sharing its carefully curated content with its widespread international audience.

‘Orion’ was supported in part by the Creative England Production Fund, which supports feature length films with a maximum budget of £2million with a particular focus on films with a regional voice, or by a regional filmmaker. The film has received recognition at other music-specific festivals like the Nashville Film Festival, where it was awarded the Grand Jury Music Film prize and has recently been nominated for The Discovery Award from the British Independent Film Awards. Finlay also won the award for Best Screenplay at Solo Positivo Film Festival in Croatia.

The film has garnered glowing reviews from the likes of The Observer and Little White Lies and has even been broadcast on BBC4 as part of the ‘Storyville’ documentary segment earlier this month. You can still catch ‘Orion’ on BBC iPlayer until 19th December and can read Finlay’s Q&A with the BBC here.

When Finlay isn’t winning awards and having her film watched by millions on a national broadcasting channel, she’s also busy drumming up a reputation for crafting the audiences’ experience of her films in surprising, creative ways. Earlier this month, ‘Orion’ screened at The Rooms festival in Bristol: a two-day event held in the disused Old Fire Station, Magistrate’s Court and Police Station in Bristol city centre as part of the REACT creative economy hub for the South West of England and Wales.

The film screening was set up in a living room-style theatre space – with a stage fitted with comfy sofas, lit with warm hues from various table lamps and hanging shades. Each audience member was provided with an “Orion” style mask and encouraged to wear it to get into character before the film, contributing photos with the hashtag #IAmOrion to be uploaded to the Orion website, which contributed to Finlay’s campaign to promote ‘Orion’ prior to releasing the film.

After the screening, the audience were treated further to an Orion impersonator who sang live and collaborated with the Invisible Circus to descend, twirling and leaping, from the Old Fire Station tower mid-tune. Sound bizarre? It was. But the immersive experience only added to poignancy of the extraordinary tale Finlay’s film so sensitively and humorously documents. Check out footage of the performance on Finlay’s Instagram account.

To find out more about other festival success stories from Creative-England supported films, follow this link.

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