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Bafta nod for Cradley Heath film maker

By Heather Large | Sandwell | Entertainment | Published:

A film based on memories of growing up in the Black Country during the era of Margaret Thatcher has been nominated for a Bafta.

Ray & Liz, written and directed by Richard Billingham and produced by Jacqui Davies is in the running for the title of Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

The drama delves into photographer and artist Billingham's troubled childhood growing up in council flat in Cradley Heath.

RAY & LIZ clip | BFI London Film Festival 2018

The 49-year-old came to prominence through his candid 1996 photography book Ray's A Laugh, which documents the life of his alcoholic father Ray, and obese, heavily tattooed mother, Liz.

Focusing on his parents, their relationship, and its impact on Richard and his younger brother Jason, Ray & Liz is the University of Gloucestershire lecturers first feature film.

It premiered at Locarno Festival in August last year where it won Sunderland University-graduate Billingham a Special Mention and is due for cinema release later this year.

The synopsis on the British Council Film's website says: "On the outskirts of Birmingham and the margins of society, the Billingham family perform extreme rituals and break cultural taboos as they muddle through a life decided by factors beyond their control.

Film maker Richard Billingham who grew up in Cradley Heath

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"Turner Prize-nominated and Deutsche Börse Prize-winning artist, Richard Billingham, returns to the striking photographs of his family during Thatcher-era Britain.

"The film is based on Billingham’s memories, focussing on his parents Ray and Liz, their relationship, and its impact on Richard and his younger brother Jason.

"At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, three episodes unfold as a powerful evocation of experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat."

Billingham is a recent recipient of The Douglas Hickox Award and Davies of the Breakthrough producer Award at BIFA 2018.

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Ray & Liz is due for cinema release later this year

In 2006, Billingham exhibited a series of photographs and videos inspired by his memories of visiting Dudley Zoo as a child. The series, entitled Zoo, was commissioned by Birmingham-based arts organisation, Vivid.

The artist spent time studying animals in zoos throughout the world, from the UK to South America, to produce the work which was exhibited at venues including Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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