Oscar- and BAFTA-winning documentary Man On Wire, directed by Cornwall’s James Marsh, has come in at number 22 in the Observer Film Magazine’s Best British Films 1984-2009 poll.
The list was compiled from the opinions of more than 60 experts – directors, screenwriters, actors, critics – and a few smart ‘outsiders’ (eg, novelist Jonathan Coe and musician Nitin Sawhney).
Other films given the thumbs-up in the poll include Trainspotting, Naked, Croupier, Slumdog Millionaire, and Sexy Beast.
Man On Wire looks at tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York’s World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974; what some consider ‘the artistic crime of the century’.
James was born in Truro and his younger brother in Redruth. Despite moving to London when he was four, he returned to Sennen every school holiday and was last here two years ago. He now lives in Copenhagen.
He recently said in an interview: “I’m very proud of my Cornish roots -my grandmother was a George; half of the people buried in Sennen graveyard are Georges.
“As the nominations were read out for the Oscar, I took myself back to the days when I stayed at my grandmother’s house in Sennen. When I’m under pressure I always think of walking to Gwenver beach, just around the corner from Sennen, on a beautiful spring morning.
“I’d love to come back and make a film in Cornwall -I’m just waiting for the right story. I know the landscape and light so well, it would be a wonderful place to base a film.”
James is also responsible for 1999’s acclaimed documentary Wisconsin Death Trip and 2005’s underrated The King, starring Gael GarcÃa Bernal and William Hurt.
More recently he directed the 1980 section of Channel Four’s critically-lauded Red Riding trilogy.
But what’s next for the talented director? He said: “Well, I have got a Hollywood agent now! It’s a bit too early to say how it will affect things really. I can’t see myself working in Hollywood as there are so many rules to adhere to, but you never know.
“I’m not sure Hollywood is a world I would thrive in. You don’t have that freedom of filmmaking that I’m used to.”
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