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Class act: film award for documentary about working-class actors

London Film Festivalg

A tough-talking documentary about how hard it is for working-class youngsters to break into acting bagged an award at the London Labour Film Festival.

The Acting Class, made by Brunel University London's Professor Michael Wayne and Dr Deirdre O'Neill, won Best UK Feature.

It features big-time actors like Christopher Eccleston, Maxine Peake and Julie Hesmondhalgh, alongside Tom Stocks, who started campaigning when he couldn’t afford drama school.

“It's tough winning an award and this is our first,” said Prof Wayne.

Their film questions why acting or any arts should be the preserve of the rich, and what happens to our culture when they are – as well as the work’s precarious London-centric nature. It also explores how success in the industry is linked to economic support, social networks, discrimination education and opportunity.

Aspiring actors face thorny social justice issues, said Prof Wayne. “But there are also broader implications for the capacity of film, television and theatre to represent society in its full range and complexity.” 

The documentary builds on films and writing by both directors to explore class and how it loops in with other inequalities.

“It's really important to gather the testimony and experiences of working-class people and present them in ways that expose what's happening,” said Dr O'Neill. “Hopefully winning this award will help raise the profile of the film and the issues we raise.”

Reported by:

Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268176