1917 cops more awards for director of Trini heritage

World War One film 1917 led the charge of winners at the 2020 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards. The film won seven of the nine awards it was nominated for including best director for Sam Mendes, who is of Trinidadian heritage.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” he said backstage at the awards. “There’s the personal delight in seeing a story very close to me and my family be developed and enlarged but the massive thing has been audiences going in large numbers.”

In all, the film won Best Film, Best British Film, Best Cinematography, Special Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Production and Best Direction.

(center) George MacKay as Schofield in “1917,” co-written and directed by Sam Mendes.

“None of us knew if an audience would turn up, it wasn’t certain at all,” Mendes continued. “It’s coincided with awards season and the fact this is still number one in the UK after four weeks, really alerted people to the fact the movie is on, it rarely happens like that.”

The epic war film is based in part on an account told to Mendes by his paternal grandfather, famed British-Trinidadian author Alfred Mendes. It captures the violent realities of war, following two British soldiers as they try to make their way through enemy lines in France during the First World War.

Premiering last December, 1917 has earned over 80 awards. Mendes won a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Director. It has earned two Golden Globe Awards and three Critics’ Choice Awards. It was chosen by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year. It’s also up for 10 nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, carded for this Sunday, February 9. Mendes’ Best Director win also means that he is the first British winner in that category since 2009 when director Danny Boyle won the award for Slumdog Millionaire.