The Sussex cows who charmed audiences from Lewes to Los Angeles have been nominated for one of the British film industry’s top awards.
The Moo Man by local directors Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier, follows 55 spirited Friesian Holsteins and their maverick farmer Steve Hook as they attempt to build a business selling organic, raw milk pintas.
Thumbing their noses at the supermarkets, three generations of the Hook family bet the future of their farm near Hailsham on an independent milk round with granddad on the float, Steve attending farmers’ markets and his four sons helping with internet sales.
The film was a hit when it premiered at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah, USA, this spring.
It went on to be selected for countless international movie festivals where it rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in showbusiness.
Now it will line up alongside four other documentaries in the British Independent Film Awards, hosted by actor James Nesbitt in London on December 8.
The competition includes work by the groundbreaking director Ken Loach and BAFTA-winner Shane Meadows.
For Selmeston-based filmmakers Andy and Heike, who plan to release a special-edition DVD of The Moo Man this Christmas, the BIFA award nomination tops a whirlwind year in which they have led cows up the red carpet, completed a world tour and taken the movie to nearly 100 screenings in the UK, talking to audiences about the food and farming issues it raised.
“It’s been quite a year since getting into Sundance. It’s been a huge journey and fantastic fun,” said Andy. “But the BIFA awards are really something else – I mean, Shane Meadows and Ken Loach! We are up among the big boys.”
Heike is modest about their chances of winning. “It’s just wonderful to be involved,” she said. “It’s all so sparkly, whereas our lives are not sparkly at all. I was standing next to Ewan McGregor at the nominees’ announcement and didn’t even recognise him! The award itself is very sparkly. It would look quite amazing on the mantelpiece of our little cottage.”
For Steve, a muddy-booted farmer plucked from his wellies to pose at premiers and be fêted by film journalists, 2013 is a year that will go down in family history. “They’re still pulling my leg at Sussex Farmers Cricket Club about being a movie star,” he said.