Awards season

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ wins big in a politically-charged BAFTA ceremony

Martin McDonagh’s crime drama won best film and four other trophies, while best director went to Guillermo del Toro for ‘The Shape of Water’.

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took home five trophies, including Best Film, at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday. The crime drama chronicles the story of a mother who takes on the local authorities by renting billboards to attract attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder. The movie also took home awards in the Outstanding British Film, Leading Actress (Frances McDormand), Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell) and Original Screenplay (McDonagh) categories.

The Hollywood-led Times Up campaign against sexual harassment dominated the stage at the BAFTAs this year. As a show of solidarity with the movement, several actors wore black to the ceremony, held at London’s Royal Albert Hall. A notable exception was Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, dressed in olive green. Reports speculated that she had to refrain from making a political statement as a member of the royal family.

The choice of dressing in all-black as a protest strategy was first seen during the Golden Globes on January 7.

Another exception was McDormand, whose printed dress was more red than black. While accepting her best actress award, she addressed her partial compliance with the dress code, but reiterated her support for the movement. “As Martin [McDonagh] said, I have a little trouble with compliance,” the actress said. “But I want you to know I stand in alliance with my sisters in black,” she said while accepting her award for best leading actress. “In drama school I was told I wasn’t naturally gifted and I should work at it. So I did.”

Mc Donagh also took note of the political undercurrent to the award ceremony: “What I’m most proud of, especially in this Time’s Up year, is it [Three Billboards] is a film about a woman who refuses to take any more shit.”

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The other big winner of the night was Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy romance The Shape of Water. The movie, which traces the love story between a woman and an amphibious creature trapped at a research facility, took home trophies for best director (del Toro), original music (Alexandre Desplat), and production design. This was Desplat’s third BAFTA win in this category after The King’s Speech (2010) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour won two awards, including best actor for Gary Oldman, who plays Winston Churchill in the war drama. This was Oldman’s first BAFTA win and third nomination in this category. He had previously been nominated for Mike Leigh’s Prick Up Your Ears (1987) and Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). The movie’s second win was in the best make-up and hair category.

Allison Janney won best supporting actress for her performance in I, Tonya, while Get Out actor Daniel Kaluuya won the EE Rising Star award, which is decided through a public vote.

Blade Runner 2049 took home a trophy each for cinematography (for Roger Deakins) and special effects. The award for sound went to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, while Baby Driver won in the editing category.

Raoul Peck’s I am not a Negro, which traces history of racism in the United States, won the award for Best Documentary, while Pixar Animation Studios’s Coco won the trophy for Best Animated Film.

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People who fall through the gaps in road safety campaigns

Helmet and road safety campaigns might have been neglecting a sizeable chunk of the public at risk.

City police, across the country, have been running a long-drawn campaign on helmet safety. In a recent initiative by the Bengaluru Police, a cop dressed-up as ‘Lord Ganesha’ offered helmets and roses to two-wheeler riders. Earlier this year, a 12ft high and 9ft wide helmet was installed in Kota as a memorial to the victims of road accidents. As for the social media leg of the campaign, the Mumbai Police made a pop-culture reference to drive the message of road safety through their Twitter handle.

But, just for the sake of conversation, how much safety do helmets provide anyway?

Lack of physical protections put two-wheeler riders at high risk on the road. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are ‘vulnerable road users’ – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the Indian transport ministry, about 28 two-wheeler riders died daily on Indian roads in 2016 for not wearing helmets.

The WHO states that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%. The components of a helmet are designed to reduce impact of a force collision to the head. A rigid outer shell distributes the impact over a large surface area, while the soft lining absorbs the impact.

However, getting two-wheeler riders to wear protective headgear has always been an uphill battle, one that has intensified through the years owing to the lives lost due on the road. Communication tactics are generating awareness about the consequences of riding without a helmet and changing behaviour that the law couldn’t on its own. But amidst all the tag-lines, slogans and get-ups that reach out to the rider, the safety of the one on the passenger seat is being ignored.

Pillion rider safety has always been second in priority. While several state governments are making helmets for pillion riders mandatory, the lack of awareness about its importance runs deep. In Mumbai itself, only 1% of the 20 lakh pillion riders wear helmets. There seems to be this perception that while two-wheeler riders are safer wearing a helmet, their passengers don’t necessarily need one. Statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in Hyderabad, the Cyberabad traffic police reported that 1 of every 3 two-wheeler deaths was that of a pillion rider. DGP Chander, Goa, stressed that 71% of fatalities in road accidents in 2017 were of two-wheeler rider and pillion riders of which 66% deaths were due to head injury.

Despite the alarming statistics, pillion riders, who are as vulnerable as front riders to head-injuries, have never been the focus of helmet awareness and safety drives. To fill-up that communication gap, Reliance General Insurance has engineered a campaign, titled #FaceThePace, that focusses solely on pillion rider safety. The campaign film tells a relatable story of a father taking his son for cricket practice on a motorbike. It then uses cricket to bring our attention to a simple flaw in the way we think about pillion rider safety – using a helmet to play a sport makes sense, but somehow, protecting your head while riding on a two-wheeler isn’t considered.

This road safety initiative by Reliance General Insurance has taken the lead in addressing the helmet issue as a whole — pillion or front, helmets are crucial for two-wheeler riders. The film ensures that we realise how selective our worry about head injury is by comparing the statistics of children deaths due to road accidents to fatal accidents on a cricket ground. Message delivered. Watch the video to see how the story pans out.


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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Reliance General Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.