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Edith Bowman hosts Van d’Or awards in London’s East End

Awards host Edith Bowman

A short film about a teenager, struggling to keep a secret about the death of his girlfriend, has won three of the top prizes at the 3rd annual Van d’Or Awards.

Callum was voted the Best Film by a jury that included the director Gurinder Chadha and Joe Bateman, the director of the Rushes Soho Shorts Festival. Michael van der Put won the Best Director award for the film and James Tarpey, who played the eponymous Callum won the trophy for Best Actor, from a strong shortlist including Otto Baxter, who played a bullied young brother, with Down’s Syndrome in the heart-warming Ups and Downs.

Kerensa York won the Best Actress prize for her role as the older of two sisters, on the run from their care home, in Lines in the Sand.

The honour for the Best Screenplay went to Karla Williams, whose Pretty Bitch explored inside the mind of a delinquent jealous teenager.

Best Actor nominee Otto Baxter

Other awards on the night went to Dylan’s Room, for the Best Drama, in which Joanna Scanlon comes to terms with the loss of her teenaged son, Dollface was the Best Comedy and the Best Animation went to The Hungry Corpse.

Adam Etherington won the Best Cinematography prize for Driftwood, an impressive drama about a swimming prodigy, that received nominations in most of the major categories, including Best Film, Best Drama, Best Actor and Best Director. The other main technical award, for Sound Design, went to Brendan Hogan, for Rise High.

The awards are small silver Ford Transit vans, with the Best Film trophy being a gold van – or “van d’or” – on a pedestal, linking the event to the event that their organisers are best known for – Cannes in a Van. Best known for promoting independent short films to passing members of the public on the Croissette during the Cannes Film Festival, with their Van d’Or awards, they also honour features, with the prize going to Kosovo’s Agnus Dei.

Callum’s Van d’Or trophy, surrounded by what are presumably known as Vans d’Argent, for the lesser categories

The creative director of Cannes in a Van, Andy Greenhouse, told UK Screen that he wasn’t trying to be like the bigger, more established awards shows; he just wanted to give good films more exposure and longevity. He said the top five films were very close, but people could all relate to Callum. “Everyone has been in a situation where they’re fighting with their morals and they’re trapped, wondering whether to speak out – and it also taps into the issue of bullying.”

The ceremony, which included screenings of the nominated best films, took place at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, and was hosted by TV and radio presenter Edith Bowman. “She’s really professional, which really helps us,” smiled Greenhouse, noting that putting on such a big event is really hard and a massive head-ache. “She’s the glue that holds it all together.”

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