Edinburgh College of Art grad wins top EIFF prize

Ainslie Henderson with Barry Purves, left, who presented him with his award. Picture: Jane Barlow
Ainslie Henderson with Barry Purves, left, who presented him with his award. Picture: Jane Barlow
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AN animated short film created by a city student has picked up a top prize at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF).

Edinburgh College of Art graduate Ainslie Henderson was once known for his stint on BBC talent show Fame Academy, but since then he has swapped his singing shoes for animation boots and has more than 30 awards, including a Bafta.

Yesterday, he was presented with the McLaren Award for Best New British Animation, supported by the British Council, for his latest short film, Stems.

The award – the longest running award celebrating creativity amongst UK animation talent – had been voted for by audience members and was presented to Ainslie by animator Barry Purves.

It was one of a series of prizes handed out at an event ahead of the closing gala for this year’s EIFF, which will be held tomorrow night.

The top prize, the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film, was awarded to Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, which received its UK premiere at the EIFF.

A study of a fractured relationship, the film was given rave reviews and its star, Charlotte Rampling, also shared the award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film.

Accepting the prize, she said: “It is an extraordinary moment when you are singled out when the craft that you have been perfecting throughout your life is appreciated and rewarded. It is thrilling and humbling and I thank you so much for giving me the chance to feel so proud.”

She shared the acting prize with James Cosmo for his performance in The Pyramid Texts as an old boxer estranged from his son.

The awards jury included former Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan, who said: “I think I speak to all up-and-coming Scottish actors when I say James Cosmo is a huge inspiration, his acting is a lesson to us all, you show us how it’s done.”

The award for Best International Feature Film was handed to Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which the jury said was “imaginative both visually and 
narratively, emotionally gripping and completely unapologetic in tone. We had a tough decision to make as we had some very strong contenders”.

The award for Best Documentary Feature Film was given to Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack, while Scrapbook won Best Short Film, being described by judges as “incredibly unique, singularly captivating, unlike anything we have seen before.”

The Student Critics Jury award, supported by James and Morag Anderson, was awarded by Catriona Morton and Sunrise Ishimwe to Black Mountain Poets directed by Jamie Adams.

The closing gala will feature the world premiere of Scott Graham’s Iona.