2013 Virgin Media Shorts Awards

Created to help uncover some of the best up and coming British filmmaking talent, the UK’s biggest short film competition – Virgin Media Shorts – has revealed the winner of this year’s competition.

Grand Prize winner, Nimer Rashed at the Virgin Media Shorts Awards 2013Nimer Rashed secured the Grand Prize with his film Touch, after being selected by industry heavyweights including BAFTA award-winning director Shane Meadows (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes, Made of Stone), former Doctor Who star David Tennant and director Mat Whitecross (Spike Island, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) as their worthy winner.

Check out our video interviews with directors & VMS Awards judges Shane Meadows & Mat Whitecross:

Nimer was presented with his prize by Shane Meadows, which includes £30,000 funding towards his next film, at a star-studded awards ceremony at the BFI (British Film Institute) IMAX in London’s Waterloo. The event was attended by an array of stars including Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge), Catherine Steadman (Fresh Meat), Olivia Hallinan (Sugar Rush), Shelley Conn (By Any Means, Marchlands), Sienna Guillory (Luther, Love Actually) and was hosted by film buff, author and presenter Danny Wallace. Guests then spent the night dancing the night away to top tunes spun by musician and Pulp front man, Jarvis Cocker.

Watch our video interview with Jarvis Cocker at the VMS Awards!

Costing nothing to make, Touch is a poignant reflection on the relationship and love between two people over the course of a life time, told almost entirely through the touch of their hands – from their first connection through to their final farewell. The piece was inspired by EM Forster’s phrase ‘only connect’ and after many weeks of pre-production, shot over one sunny weekend in various locations, including a park, church and restaurant.

The film-maker Nimer, commentated: “Filming Touch was a real labour of love and winning Virgin Media Shorts 2013 is a dream come true. The competition always has a really high standard of talent and entering the project does a great deal to elevate the short film form. I wanted to make something that would be really cinematic, where images would tell a story on their own, largely without dialogue. It was an exciting challenge to explain exactly how the film would work, without either a traditional script or storyboards.”

Shane Meadows comments: “The creativity and breath of talent displayed in the shortlist this year made my job as a judge very tricky. Touch is a beautiful short that manages to convey a range of emotions in a simple and powerful way. It tells a story that we all at some point have been affected by.”

Dana Strong, chief operating officer at Virgin Media, said: “Here at Virgin Media, we’re extremely proud to be supporting such talented up and coming British film-makers. Now in its sixth year, the competition has gone from strength to strength, providing British film talent with a real opportunity to step up in a challenging industry. This year has been another fantastic competition with Nimer’s short film demonstrating his talent for storytelling in an emotionally charged and beautifully shot short film.”

In addition to the £30,000 funding for his next project, Nimer will be able to benefit from mentoring and support from the BFI Film Fund, the UK’s largest public film fund and a backer of recent British films – a practice that has been provided to previous winners, such as BAFTA nominated Luke Snellin, 2013 Virgin Media Shorts judge – Jason Wingard – and last year’s grand prize-winner Jennifer Sheridan, who has just submitted the script for her next film to the BFI.

Both the Nikon People’s Choice Award Winner, which gave film fans from across the UK, the chance to support their favourite, by voting on Twitter and Facebook, and The TiVo® Award Winner, as voted for by Virgin Media customers via their TiVo box, were also announced at last night’s ceremony. Just Say Hi, directed by John McPhail on a budget of just £200, did the double, scooping both prizes, receiving £5,000 film funding, mentoring from the BFI and Nikon digital SLR camera equipment worth up to £5,000.

Nikon ambassador, John Wright said: “It’s been a pleasure to be on the judging panel for this year’s awards and to be involved in a competition that supports emerging film making talent. I’ve been so impressed with the quality of entries and hope that more people are inspired to give film making a go.

Nimer’s winning short was outstanding; a really well thought out piece of work – a deserved winner, well done.”

Virgin Media Shorts will continue to give all shortlisted film makers the opportunity to have their work showcased to millions of people across the country through cinemas nationwide, on TV (showcased in a dedicated app on Virgin Media’s TiVo® service) and online. A unique opportunity for those trying to break into such a notoriously competitive industry.

For more information about Virgin Media Shorts and to watch the winning films visit www.virginmediashorts.co.uk.

Check out our video to see filmmakers, guests and judges tell us about their Virgin Media Shorts Awards experience!