It is a great pleasure to announce that the winner of the 2015 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment is Paul King for his work as writer and director of the 2015 live action feature length movie, Paddington. The movie chronicles the adventures of a Peruvian bear with a fondness for all things British and is based on Michael Bond’s universally beloved books. Raising issues of immigration, fear, and the longing to belong this animated film is not romantic or idealistic about the problems faced by both the immigrant and the community which must choose to welcome or reject him. Rather it offers an insightful reflection on the risks and rewards of welcoming a stranger onto our shores and into our homes. Suzanne Ross’ review of the movie is available here.
The Raven award honors an artist for an insightful representation of some aspect of mimetic theory. Paul King’s story of the Brown family’s transformative relationship with an alien in their midst creatively dramatizes the paradoxes of violence and peace that result from the scapegoat mechanism. As demonstrated by the founder of mimetic theory, René Girard, the violent exclusion of scapegoats is the foundation and sustaining principle of human community. And as developed by the theologian James Alison, this mimetic insight reveals the process by which peace emerges as a scapegoat is transformed from dangerous other to beloved member of the community. This is the very journey that the Brown family takes with Paddington and we hear a line of dialogue near the end of the movie that sums up this reversal perfectly: “This family needed that wee bear every bit as much as he needed us.” That very neediness or vulnerability turns out to be the essential ingredient for the transformation to occur. Paul King’s insightful portrayal of this vulnerable, trusting bear offers an antidote to the fear and anxiety that currently dominates immigration debates.
Suzanne Ross’ interview with Mr. King appears below.
More about Paul King and Paddington
Paul King began his career in the theatre, where he conceived and directed a number of comedy shows, collaborating with Richard Ayoade, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, and Noel Fielding, among others. In 2001 he won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival, which led to various television commissions including the wildly successful cult series The Mighty Boosh, for which Paul was BAFTA nominated and went on to direct for three seasons. In 2009 Paul wrote and directed his first feature film, the brilliantly inventive imaginary road trip Bunny and the Bull. This was followed by the Little Britain BBC Christmas Special Come Fly With Me (the first of a series), which Paul directed in 2010. A lifelong fan of Michael Bond’s Paddington books, Paul is both writer and director of the film adaptation of Paddington Bear.
Paddington was nominated in two categories by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2015, Best British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won Best Film in the 2015 Children’s BAFTA awards. Paddington also received the Empire award for Best Comedy in 2015. And according to the film’s executive producer, Rosie Alison, it was a big box office success around the world.