Sunderland film director aiming to impress Julie Walters

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A FILM director will face a Hollywood icon in a bid to land a top award.

Paul Dingwall has reached the finals of the UK’s biggest short film competition Virgin Media Shorts.

Now the 25-year-old, from Hastings Hill, will join 12 other film-makers who aim to impress a judging panel including Julie Walters.

Other judges include Phyllida Lloyd, director of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady, Mat Whitecross, director of Ashes and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, James King, film critic and presenter of The Movie Show on ITV2 and Ben Roberts, director of the British Film Institute Film (BFI) Fund.

Paul is in the running for a prize of £30,000 in funding to make his next film, with mentoring from the BFI along the way. He was shortlisted for his film Without Saying.

It depicts a teenage romance in art-house style, as a boy struggles to express his true feelings to his sweetheart.

The film took only one day to film and Paul chose to shoot it on the North East coastline because of his own happy memories of the area.

He said: “I hoped to tell a short story which would resonate with any audience when thinking about their own trials and tribulations of their first love.

“I wanted it to be a warm-hearted story with depth.”

Paul credits his grandmother for inspiring his love of film.

As a child he would watch old classics on VHS with her, which inspired him to also make films that would also bring the same joy he felt.

The announcement of the shortlist also marks the launch of the People’s Choice Award, giving film fans from across Sunderland the chance to support Paul’s film, by voting at

The People’s Choice winner will receive a prize fund of £5,000.

Now in its fifth year, Virgin Media Shorts gives film makers the opportunity to have their work showcased to millions of people across the country through cinemas nationwide, on TV, on mobile and online.

Mat Whitecross said: “I know exactly how challenging it can be to break into this industry, and so being there to reveal the shortlist was a truly special experience.

“The hard part now begins for us judges in choosing from the wealth of talent submitted this year, and I’d really urge all film fans to check out for their chance to vote in the People’s Choice Award.”

Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “We can’t wait to discover the next-generation of British film talent and I am sure that this year’s shortlist will be no exception.”

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