Students Staff

03 February 2009

Sir Ben Kingsley to launch new masters degree for filmmakers

Loughton Campus

East 15 Acting School is delighted to announce that internationally renowned actor Sir Ben Kingsley is to launch its new Masters Degree in Filmmaking at BAFTA on Friday 6 February at 6.30 pm on the eve of the awards weekend.

Sir Ben will join other special guests: multi-award winning film director Mike Newell, Chairman of the UK Film Council, Stuart Till and Director of the London Independent Film Festival, Eric Schultz to launch the new MA/MFA Filmmaking programme.

The new course is another major milestone in the development of East 15 Acting School under the guidance of the School’s Director Leon Rubin.

This course offers a dynamic, radical new approach to filmmaking that will produce the next generation of UK filmmakers to continue the recent success at the Golden Globes and the BAFTA and Oscar nominations.

Specifically designed to address the needs of the ever growing community of independent filmmakers, the course equips students with practical, professional experience in developing and producing projects from the storyboard to the final edit.

The award winning writer/director Mark Herman (Brassed Off, Little Voice and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) has been quoted as saying:

‘East 15’s new MA/MFA in Filmmaking is a fantastic initiative and a valuable addition to the UK’s independent film industry. I believe this course can only add to East 15 Acting School’s exceptionally high standard of training.’

Announcing that independent filmmaker Vito Rocco has been appointed as the Head of the MA/MFA Filmmaking course, Professor Rubin, explains: ‘This Filmmaking course is the next step in our quest to deliver programmes that address emergent needs in live and recorded performance. The team we have brought together to support this programme are able to share a wealth of experience from within the industry as practitioners as well as trainers.

‘I believe that in Vito Rocco we have found exactly that combination of creativity and a commitment to excellence that we would want to engender in our students’.

Notes to Editors

Sir Ben Kinglsey
After earning an Academy Award, two Golden Globes and two BAFTA Awards for his riveting portrayal of Indian social leader Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Ben Kingsley continues to bring unequalled detail and nuance to each role. Kingsley went on to earn three additional Oscar nominations for Bugsy, Sexy Beast and House of Sand and Fog. His roles have been as diverse as his talents, from a sturdy vice president in Dave to the scheming Fagin in Oliver Twist. Sir Ben was knighted in the 2001 New Year’s Honours.

Two films screened last year at the Sundance Film Festival give further perspective to his work: The Audience Award winning The Wackness, in which he plays a drug-addled psychiatrist and the crime thriller Transsiberian, as a mysterious traveller. He stars opposite Penelope Cruz in the sexually charged Elegy which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, for which he was nominated for the London Film Critics Award for Best Actor.

Sir Ben verified his comedic talents in Paramount’s The Love Guru, which opened last summer. Two other completed films include 50 Dead Men, a thriller set against the dangerous backdrop of 1980s Ireland, and the more light-hearted crime comedy War, Inc. Sir Ben completed production on Martin Scorsese’s 1950s drama Shutter Island last summer and recently completed filming Jerry Bruckheimer’s Prince of Persia.

Sir Ben marked the beginning of his professional acting career with his acceptance by the Royal Shakespeare Company in l967. From roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title roles in Othello and Hamlet, among others, his more recent and diverse stage roles include those in The Country Wife, The Cherry Orchard, A Betrothal and Waiting for Godot.

Mike Newell

Mike Newell began his directing career in television. His first critically acclaimed movie was Dance with a Stranger, a biographical drama starring Miranda Richardson as Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Great Britain. For his directing efforts, Newell won the Award of the Youth at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. Newell continued his successes in the film industry with Enchanted April which won a Golden Globes for Joan Plowright.

Four Weddings and a Funeral was also critically acclaimed and won numerous awards. Since these award-winning productions, Newell has directed a number of films in Hollywood, such as Donnie Brasco (starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp), Pushing Tin (starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, and Angelina Jolie), and Mona Lisa Smile (starring Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, and Julia Stiles).

Newell became the first British director of the Harry Potter film series, on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The film was the fourth installment of the series and was a major success worldwide.

Head of MA /MFA Filmmaking - Vito Rocco

Writer and director Vito Rocco's short films, music videos and work for television and the theatre have won numerous awards as well as nominations for Best Short at the Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals and Best Film at the BAFTA Short Film Showcase, Best Live Action Film at the Palm Springs Film Festival, Best Short at the Bermuda Film Festival, Best Direction and Best Film at the New York No Spot Creativity Film Festival and MTV Best Video at the Ericksson Music Awards.

His television credits include the comedy drama, The Last Chancers for Channel 4, and Suburban Shootout for Channel 5.

Vito’s first feature film is Faintheart, a comedy set in the world of battle re-enactments for Slingshot, Vertigo and Film Four. The project won the recent MySpace Movie Mash Up competition, in which it was selected by a panel of experts and then voted the winning entry by the public.

East 15 Acting School

Founded on the traditions of Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in Stratford, East London. East 15 Acting School has, throughout its 45 year history, maintained an enviable reputation for the unique quality of its students’ development and training and innovative new courses. In 2000 East 15 became part of the University of Essex.

Past students include major stage names such as Alison Steadman as well as award winning film directors such as the Oscar nominated Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader) and musicians including Damon Albarn.

For further information, to arrange interviews, request photographs or receive an invitation to the launch at BAFTA, please contact: Kevin Wyatt-Lown, Head of Marketing and Public Relations, East 15 Acting School, e-mail:

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