Shola Amoo’s The Last Tree and Rapman’s Blue Story have made the shortlist for BAFTA’s Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer category.

This award was established to encourage British filmmaking by recognising individuals in the selected disciplines whose first film sets them apart as a talent with a distinct vision and potential. It was previously presented as the Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Writer, Director or Producer in their First Feature Film.

Marc Samuelson, Chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee said: “New talent is the lifeblood of the British film industry. This shortlist of ten films shines a light on a diverse group of talented debut British filmmakers who demonstrate that the future of British film is in good hands.”

The Last Tree, is Shola Amoo’s second feature is about Femi who, after growing up in quiet, rural Lincolnshire, teenager Femi struggles with unfamiliar surroundings and cultural differences when he moves in with his mother in London. Lead actor Sam Adewunmi, and supporting actress Ruthxjiah Bellenea both won at the recent BIFA Awards. Adwewunmi Most Promising Newcomer, and Bellenea Best Supporting Actress.

Blue Story, is Rapman’s feature debut adaptation of his successful web series Shiro’s Story. It centres around best friends Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and Marco (Micheal Ward) go to the same high school in Peckham but live in neighbouring London boroughs. When Marco’s beaten up by one of Timmy’s primary school friends the two boys wind up on rival sides of a never-ending cycle of postcode gang war in which there are no winners … only victims.

After suffering controversy after a number of cinema chains pulling screenings of Blue Story from their screens due to alleged violent incidents they attributed to the film, Blue Story backed by BBC Film and Paramount has ranked 6th most successful film at the UK box office this year.

The films Shortlisted for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer are as follows:

  • Animals  – Writer:  Emma Jane Unsworth
  • Bait – Writer/Director: Mark Jenkin, Producers: Kate Byers, Linn Waite           
  • Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story – Director/Producer: Steve Sullivan                    
  • Blue Story – Writer/Director: Rapman, Producer: Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor
  • (also produced by Damien Jones)
  • For Sama – Director/Producer: Waad al-Kateab, Director: Edward Watts               
  • The Last Tree – Producer: Myf Hopkins (also produced by Lee Thomas)
  • Maiden – Director: Alex Holmes
  • Only You – Writer/Director: Harry Wootliff
  • The Party’s Just Beginning – Writer/Director: Karen Gillan
  • Retablo – Writer/Director: Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio (also written by Héctor Gálvez)

The EE British Academy Film Awards take place on Sunday 2 February 2020 at the Royal Albert Hall. The ceremony will be hosted by Graham Norton and will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One, BBC One HD and BBC iPlayer.