Montrose filmmaker Anthony Baxter is the talk of the town after scooping the Scottish BAFTA for Specialist Factual film at last weekend’s ceremony.
The 52-year-old documentary-maker, known for hard-hitting productions You’ve Been Trumped and Flint, covering the Trump Golf Links in Aberdeen and the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, was awarded the gong for his film Eye of the Storm about the late Montrose-born painter, James Morrison.
And now the film is also up for the prestigious Golden Kapok Award at China’s largest documentary festival.
Eye of the Storm tells the story of Morrison’s life, from his early days at Glasgow School of Art to his famous trip to the Arctic, and his devotion to the Scottish landscape.
Before his death in 2020, Morrison has been suffering from sight loss, but he continued painting even after it became incredibly difficult.
For Anthony the film’s success is bittersweet.
“I wish James was here to enjoy this moment as well, because I’m sure he’d be really chuffed, for me and the film, and also for his work,” says Anthony ahead of a special screening of the film at the new Montrose Playhouse tomorrow.
“That’s one of the sad parts about it, is that he was never really able to see the film. I could just see him chortling away at this whole thing too.
“It just feels like a real tribute to him.”
But the Scottish Bafta has been a real cause for celebration in the town, the director adds.
“Going into the Playhouse cinema, of which I’m a proud patron of course, the staff were all really delighted,” he says. “They were all holding the award, we were thrilled.
“We’ve got another screening coming up on Monday and the Playhouse is going to put on a little glass of fizz for everybody arriving as a little celebration, so that’ll be another chance for people to see it on the big screen.
“After all,” he laughs, “it’s not every day that somebody in Montrose wins a Bafta! So it’s a huge honour for me, but it also feels like something the town is enjoying, and that’s a lovely feeling too, I must say.”
Flint release suspended due to Alec Baldwin gun tragedy
Meanwhile, the American release of Baxter’s acclaimed 2020 documentary Flint, covering the Michigan city’s water crisis, remains postponed, after narrator Alec Baldwin was involved in a tragic on-set accident where a prop gun was misfired, resulting in the death of a cinematographer.
“That was a bit of a shock, that terrible sequence of events,” says the director. “it just seemed the wrong moment to release it, just after that tragedy with Alec Baldwin unfolded, because of course he’s the narrator and actually appears in the film too.”
However, he insists he is still committed to the release, saying it is “important that the that story is talked about in the US and isn’t forgotten”.
“I’m really committed to getting it out, because I feel very passionately for the people of Flint and their ongoing fight.
“And I think that’s what we really hope for the film – is that we’ll be able to shine that light back on Flint. But it’s just so difficult to put it out at this moment.”
Eye of the Storm will play at a special screening on Monday November 29 at Montrose Playhouse.