By Humphrey Carter
LAST year the British short film “Wasp” won the first edition of the MFA Planet Europe Short Film Festival in Palma. In the early hours of yesterday morning, British director Andrea Arnold walked away with the Oscar for Best Live Action Short film.

In winning her Oscar, Arnold had to beat off stiff competition from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo whose “7.35 de la mañana” also competed in Palma last year.

So, there was some cause for celebration in Majorca yesterday and it is hoped that Arnold will make a guest appearance at the second festival in Palma later this month where a special screening of the Oscar-winning short is being organised.

Festival director Philip Rogan said yesterday that he was really pleased for Arnold. “It won the festival last year, it walked away with best film, Natalie Press won best actress and it also won the jury/audience award. “When Guy Hamilton saw the film he picked it out straight away as the winner and he was right,” said Rogan. “I remember when Guy saw the film, it was the first short we screened in the final round of voting. He said ‘if the rest of the films are all this good, it's going to be hard to choose a winner'.” Former Bond director Hamilton was on the final jury along with writer/producer/director Gabriel Beaumont. “I was very anxious for Arnold, I was very impressed with the film when I saw it. I thinks it's brilliant she's won the Oscar, I'm very excited for her. The film had something of Mike Leigh about it, it was very refreshing to see a woman making this kind of film today. “She reminded me of when Ken Loach, Leigh and I were all young working together at Granada. I thought she also got some great performances out the cast, the children were wonderful,” Beaumont said yesterday. “It's a terrific film, depressing at times and very harsh, but very real and extremely well made.” The short film also received my highest mark as a member of the festival pre-selection jury as we sat through the 300 entries to pick a final 94 films.

Set in Arnold's native Dartford, “Wasp” tells the story of a young mother, who, unable to fund a babysitter, leaves her four young daughters outside the local pub while she goes on a date with an old flame.

While the kids roam wild outside, a wasp crawls into her baby's mouth - the image that sparks the film.
For Rogan, it is a great vote of confidence in the festival “I sent her an e-mail yesterday and if this year's winner goes on to win an Oscar again then I guess we can say we've got something really special going on here in Majorca,” he said. “This year we've already got Ashvin Kumar's “Little Terrorist” in competition here and that was also one of the five Oscar nominations.

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