Writer/Director: Simon Amstell, Producers: Dominic Dromgoole, Alexandra Breede, Louise Simpson, Production: Open Palm Films, World Sales: Wildstar Sales, Country: UK, Language: English, 85′, 2018, Rights: World Excluding: UK/Ireland, US/Canada, France, Germany, Poland
Benjamin is a drama-comedy about feeling isolated and struggling for connection.
Benjamin played by Colin Morgan (Merlin, The Fall), a rising star filmmaker, is on the brink of premiering his difficult second film ‘No Self’. He has been too long in the edit.
On the eve of the premiere at the London Film Festival, he is introduced to a mesmeric French singer called Noah. As they journey through a contemporary London of vegan restaurants, comedy clubs and avant-garde dance, they slowly manoeuvre themselves and each other towards love.
Following the award-winning success of his debut seven years ago, Benjamin sits in the edit room agonising over the minutiae of his new film, ‘No Self’. It stars himself, cast opposite hip young actor Harry, in an autobiographical film about love and disconnection. “I don’t know who I am if this isn’t good”, he complains to his producer.
Home, for Benjamin, is a one-bedroom flat in North London with a cat, where he wastes long nights watching meditation videos on YouTube and over-eating ice cream.
The zealous but equally callous Billie portrayed by Jessica Raine ( Baptiste, Patrick Melrose) his Press Rep, arrives at the flat to take some shots for his new film and invites Benjamin to a party launching a new range of chairs. Reluctantly Benjamin goes accompanied by his best friend, Stephen (Joel Fry) an unsuccessful comedian. They quickly realise, in the depths of East London, that the crowd is a generation just out of step with their own.
Before they leave, Benjamin finds himself captivated by the band on stage, in particular their young lead singer, French music student Noah (Phénix Brossard). Opting to stay, Benjamin fumbles through a conversation with him and is invited to dine with the band. Noah’s a vegan too… and they end up spending the night together.
The premiere of Benjamin’s film, ‘No Self’, is held at Curzon Soho as part of the London Film Festival. It is a disaster. Amidst this professional crisis for Benjamin, Stephen has a row with Billie, and Benjamin with Stephen. As if things couldn’t get worse, Noah doesn’t think that he’s ready for a relationship. A minor meltdown ensues, capped by a pasting for his film from Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo.
Benjamin’s career is in crisis, his best friend Stephen’s comedy can’t raise a laugh, his other relationships seem phoney and the world seems terribly impressed by rubbish.
How can Benjamin finally get out of his own head and open himself up to the reality of being loved?
Benjamin is a film inspired by my own painful attempts at love, having prioritised my career over anything else from the age of thirteen. It is an exploration of what it would take to break someone free of their loneliness and depression, of their carefully constructed ‘self’. I came to understand that I, like Benjamin had been seeking the love of an audience, when what was really needed was some actual intimacy. Benjamin shows that journey, forcing a character to confront the limitations of their defence mechanisms and see that without them, they would be free.
Official Selection London Film Festival 2019
Winner Milan International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 2019
The Queerties Nominee 2021
Simon Amstell is a British comedian, television host, screenwriter, director and actor. Simon began his career on television as the host of Channel 4’s popular music and pop culture program Popworld. He then went on to host the hit comedy show Never Mind the Buzzcocks for which he won two British Comedy Awards as well as a Royal Television Society Award for Best Entertainment Performance.
In 2009, BBC2 commissioned Simon to write and star in Grandma’s House. The critically acclaimed show went on for two seasons and won a British Comedy Award.
As well as continuing his stand up career, touring internationally and making Do Nothing which was broadcast on BBC2 and Numb, which can now be seen on Netflix, Simon has directed two short films, Something More, chosen for Channel 4’s Random Acts and William, a short produced by Tiger Aspect productions. In 2017 Simon directed a mockumentary for the BBC iPlayer entitled Carnage. The film is set in a future and looks back at a time when human beings ate other animals. Benjamin is Simon’s debut feature film.