Named in honour of one of Britain's most original film-makers and judged this year by an international jury, including Sundance Film Festival director Geoff Gilmore and author Jonathan Coe, the Michael Powell Award carries a cash prize of £5,000. Since its inception in 1993, it has singled out some of the UK's finest films in recent years including The Last Resort, Gas Attack and Jude.
Rewarding imagination and creativity in British film-making, the nominations recognise British films by both established film-makers and newcomers, and films made both through conventional means and the DIY route.
As Lenny Crooks, head of the UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund, points out, the range of films reflects the breadth of UK film-making today.
"Anton Corbijn has an unerring eye and the ability to draw great performances. Rarely do you come across work by a (new) director which is so self-assured, while David Mackenzie continues to grow in stature as a film-maker of great distinction. In Hallam Foe, he experiments with traditional techniques, bringing visuals and sound together in a spectacularly successful way."
The award will be announced on the closing day of the 61st Edinburgh International Film Festival (August 15-26).
2006 Brothers Of The Head, dirs: Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe
2005 Tsotsi, dir: Gavin Hood
2004 My Summer Of Love, dir: Pawel Pawlikowski
2003 Young Adam, dir: David Mackenzie
2002 Out Of Control, dir: Dominic Savage
2001 Gas Attack, dir: Kenny Glenaan
2000 Last Resort, dir: Pawel Pawlikowski
1999 The War Zone, dir: Tim Roth
1998 Love Is The Devil, dir: John Maybury
1997 Under The Skin, dir: Carine Adler
1996 Jude, dir: Michael Winterbottom
1995 Small Faces, dir: Gillies MacKinnon
1994 Priest, dir: Antonia Bird
1993 Blue, dir: Derek Jarman
SEACHD - THE INACCESSIBLE PINNACLE
The first feature film made in Scottish Gaelic, Simon Miller's Seachd - The Inaccessible Pinnacle tells the story of a young man who visits his dying grandfather in hospital to search for the truth behind his parents' death.
Miller (whose shorts Dead Man Falls and Foighidinn - The Crimson Snowdrop won acclaim on the festival circuit) and producer Christopher Young were keen to make a film that truly reflected the local community. To this end, they collaborated with Gaelic writers and co-directors, and made use of local amateur actors, crew, vocalists and musicians to create the film. It is being released in the UK by Soda Pictures.
Int'l sales: Young Films, (44) 1471 844 444
Justin Edgar's follow-up to his 2002 debut Large, Special People follows the struggles of a film-maker who hopes the film he is making with a group of disabled teenagers will bring him stardom.
Special People is based on Edgar's short of the same name and is the first British film in which every disabled character is played by a disabled actor. Featuring both newcomers such as Robyn Frampton and experienced actors including David Proud and Jason Maza, the comedy involved improvised scenes. "The film relies on performance rather than a conventional screenplay," Edgar says.
Backed by Tansoo Media, Picture Palace, Big Button Media and Screen West Midlands, the film was shot in April and has its premiere in Edinburgh.
Int'l sales: 104 Films, (44) 114 249 3160
AND WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER'
Based on Blake Morrison's memoir, And When Did You Last See Your Father' is a candid exploration of the author's relationship with his dying father. Adapted by David Nicholls and directed by Anand Tucker, the film stars Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent, Juliet Stevenson and newcomer Matthew Beard. "Hopefully (the film) will allow an audience to experience their own emotions through the filter of the character, and move them without feeling exploited," says Tucker.
Produced by Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley's Number 9 Films, it was developed through the UK Film Council's (Ukfc) Development Fund slate with Film4, Intandem Films, EM Media and the Irish Film Board and co-funded by the Ukfc's Premiere Fund. It opens in the UK in October through Walt Disney Smpi.
Int'l sales: Intandem Films, (44) 20 7851 3800
One of the hot titles at Cannes this year, where it won top honours in Directors' Fortnight, Control tells the story of Ian Curtis, the tormented lead singer of 1970s Manchester band Joy Division.
The film marks the directing debut of renowned photographer Anton Corbijn, who took some of the most iconic shots of Curtis and the band. It was his experience of the people involved that inspired the confidence of producer Orian Williams and Curtis' widow Deborah, on whose memoir the film draws.
Written by Matt Greenhalgh, Control stars newcomer Sam Riley as Curtis and Samantha Morton as his wife. Most territories were sold at Cannes and Momentum Pictures will release the film in the UK in October.
Int'l sales: Becker International, (44) 207 870 3393
Jim Threapleton's debut film was inspired by the CIA's controversial prisoner transport programme and focuses on a man who is taken to an unknown country and held without trial.
The immediacy of the subject matter forced Threapleton to make the film in an unconventional fashion, working with his cast, which includes Omar Berdouni and Andy Serkis, in workshops based on a treatment he researched with producer Andy Noble.
"Working without a script meant the story was developed organically from character," says Threapleton. "The cast were confronted with extensive on-camera improvisations, creating story junctions from scratch under grinding emotional conditions. It's because of this (that) such a vivid ... portrait came into focus."
Int'l sales: High Point Films, (44) 20 7424 6870
Adapted from Peter Jinks' novel, Hallam Foe marks David Mackenzie's return to Edinburgh four years after his Young Adam won the Michael Powell award. The film, which opens the festival, stars Jamie Bell as Hallam, a teenager who befriends a young woman (Sophia Myles) after becoming convinced his father (Ciaran Hinds) and step-mother (Claire Forlani) have killed his mother.
"I was impressed by how (the novel) takes you into the head of this troubled teenager," says Mackenzie. "It seemed to say something about our image-hungry 21st century times."
The film has been sold to a slew of international territories, including the US, and is released in the UK on August 31 through Walt Disney Smpi.
Int'l sales: Independent Film Sales, (44) 20 7257 8734
MY LIFE AS A BUS STOP
Duncan and Wilma Finnigan's My Life As A Bus Stop is a black comedy starring Angela Coates as a desperate director no-one takes seriously. When her wannabe actor flatmate Luna (John Stewart) flunks an audition, Trudy is persuaded to produce his screenplay.
"Most of our work is character-based and the main themes in the film include characters' insecurities but also their perceptions of showbiz," say the film-makers.
The Finnigans, whose credits include Two Donuts and Black Coffee, took the DIY approach, keeping costs down by using their own equipment and casting friends and family.
The film receives its world premiere at Edinburgh.
Int'l sales: Fin Scotland Films, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Loftin's debut feature Saxon stars Sean Harris as an ex-con who, desperate for cash to pay off a loan shark, returns to the council estate where he grew up to look for his childhood sweetheart's missing millionaire husband. Loftin was keen to subvert expectations and avoid the film becoming an exercise in social realism. "The subject matter is quite dark," says Loftin, "but I wanted it to be a surreal, sunny, colourful, hand-held sort of film - more like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Saxon really isn't kitchen sink; it's more like a classic Western or Greek myth."
Produced by Elise Valmorbida, the Sillwood Films production was financed through the Enterprise Investment Scheme and was picked up by Peccadillo Pictures for the UK.
Int'l sales: Sillwood Films, (44) 20 7690 4990
Sugarhouse is the first film from digital production outfit Slingshot. Directed by Gary Love and based on the stage play Collision by Dominic Leyton, it stars Steven Mackintosh as a middle-class city boy who finds himself in trouble when he tries to score off an addict (Ashley Walters) and runs into a volatile crime boss (Andy Serkis).
"In less than six months, we went from our first meeting with the writer to the first day of principal photography," says Slingshot CEO Arvind Ethan David. "To have managed it proves that what matters is the strength of your belief, the integrity of your approach and the quality of the material, not the size of your budget."
Co-produced by Lunar Films and Wolf Committee, Slingshot opens the film in the UK on August 24.
Int'l sales: Moviehouse Entertainment, (44) 20 7380 3999
THE WAITING ROOM
Roger Goldby, whose short It's Good To Talk was nominated for an Academy Award in 1998, makes his feature debut with The Waiting Room. Starring Anne-Marie Duff, Ralf Little and Rupert Graves, it is the story of two people whose chance encounter sets in motion a series of events that impacts on their friends and acquaintances.
Goldby teamed up with producer Sarah Sulick and formed Bright Pictures last year, raising The Waiting Room's finance themselves mostly through private investors and supporters, including lyricist Tim Rice. The film is executive produced by Stephen Evans.
Goldby likens the film to US indies such as The Squid And The Whale. "Audiences connect with stories when they can identify with characters," he says. "And this cast was amazing."
Contact: Bright Pictures, (44) 20 7478 5158
Set in New York, Tom Shankland's debut feature stars Stellan Skarsgard as a detective pursuing a killer who gives his victims the choice of either killing their loved ones or being killed themselves. Melissa George, Selma Blair and Ashley Walters also star.
Writer Clive Bradley was inspired by the writings of population geneticist George R Price who argues there is no altruism in nature. "I thought placing his theory in a heightened emotional context would provide a compelling basis for a thought-provoking thriller," Bradley explains. The film, produced by Allan Niblo and James Richardson with co-funding from the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund, is released by Vertigo Films in the UK. A slew of sales, including The Weinstein Company for the US, were secured at Cannes.
Int'l sales: Pathe Pictures International, (44) 20 7323 5151.