Time-travelling film up for student Oscar

By Jennifer Lipman, May 12, 2011
Time travellers: Ian Hogg and Maggie Steed in Alex Lipman’s film

Time travellers: Ian Hogg and Maggie Steed in Alex Lipman’s film

A short film by a young movie-maker from Stanmore has been nominated for a Student Academy Award.

Alex Lipman, 21, wrote and produced the black comedy The Miserables last year as his final project for Westminster University's film and TV production course.

A love story loosely inspired by Mr Lipman's grandparents, The Miserables follows husband and wife Murray and Evelyn Pickleton as Murray attempts to stave off his wife's terminal illness by building a time machine from their old furniture.

Shortlisted for Best Foreign Student Film at the awards, The Miserables is the only British film in the running and the only one of the five made by undergraduates.

Mr Lipman will find out next week if it has won a gold, silver or bronze, ahead of the ceremony at the Samuel Goldwyn theatre in Beverley Hills on June 11.

With known actors in the lead roles, including Jam and Jerusalem actress Maggie Steed as Evelyn, the film has already triumphed at festivals in China, Russia and Germany.

Mr Lipman, whose first short film told the story of a TV quiz-show winner's struggle to convince his family he was telling the truth, said he had wanted to make a "different student film.

"I love storytelling and I'm inspired by filmmakers like Charlie Kaufman, who made Being John Malkovich, people who tell quirky stories of heightened reality," he said.

"To an outsider my grandparents might look really boring but they are so in love, it's amazing how much they care about each other," he said.

"That's where the idea came from - though my grandpa has never actually built a time machine." Past winners of the so-called student Oscars - which were awarded for the first time in 1973 - include the creator of South Park, Trey Parker, Pixar's John Lasseter and the Back to the Future writer Robert Zemeckis.

"It's absolutely insane" said Mr Lipman. "I never in a million years imagined this would happen. All my friends and family are so excited but I don't want to jinx it.

"But it does mean there's a lot of pressure now for the follow-up."

Last updated: 3:39pm, May 12 2011