As a film fan, it would have been a tough task to find a better city to come to than Nottingham. In an otherwise dull and muddy Midlands, this fair city stands out as a shining jewel. Its fantastic array of cinemas – from the small independents to the large multiplexes – ensure that every new release can be caught. And for emerging British filmmaking talent The Royal Centre and Broadway Cinema form an exciting creative hub, providing the place with a vibrancy that makes it feel like part of the industry rather than just an observer. The city has a lot to provide; up to now it seems like that has mostly been on the behalf of one Mr Shane Meadows, but things seem set to change as two of Nottingham’s icons attract attention from high places.
Sir Ridley Scott is currently planning his take on Robin Hood in a film (which for a long time went under the working title ‘Nottingham’). Starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, this looks set to be as epic in scale as Gladiator. But, in a desperate bid to prove that we can succeed without the man in tights, an adaptation of David Peace’s book The Damned United was recently released. This depicts an altogether different figurehead of Nottingham, the mercurial Brian Howard Clough. The Damned United chronicles football’s greatest ever manager arriving at Elland Road in 1974 to take charge of Leeds United – the most successful side of their era. Without right-hand man and best friend Peter Taylor, Clough’s reign at the club was disastrous; he lasted only 44 days before a player revolt led to his dismissal. Michael Sheen will be portraying Clough, hot on the heels of his shamefully award-ignored turn as David Frost. Starring alongside him is a talented homegrown cast including the likes of Jim Broadbent, Colm Meaney and local lad Joe Dempsie. Dempsie is best known for his consistently scene-stealing performance as Chris in the student favourite Skins, and is a prime example of the talent this blooming Nottingham scene produces. The perfect blend of local ingredients give Old Big ‘ead’s tale the potential to ignite the damp-squib that is the football genre. Furthermore, this complex exploration of the egomaniac’s flawed genius in cinema’s latest Life Of Brian could prove to be a key component in Nottingham becoming a Hollywood institution.