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Brassed Off director Mark Herman honoured by Leeds Met

Mark Herman, the director of critically-acclaimed films, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Brassed Off, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Leeds Metropolitan University.

Mark Herman"

A former film student of the University's predecessor institution, Leeds Polytechnic, where he trained as an animator, Mark progressed to the National Film School, and it was there that he turned to writing and directing.

His first work as a writer and director on the film, See you at Wembley, Frankie Walsh, won him an Oscar for Best Foreign Student Film.

On receiving his award, Mark commented: "This award means more to me than the other film awards that I've received because it's coming from the place where I actually started my film career. When I came to Leeds Poly I had no interest in film and when I left I was a filmmaker.

"Throughout my career I've always tried to move away from what I've just done. I had just done a romantic comedy called Hope Springs and I was very keen to go completely against that and you can't get further away from romantic comedy than the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It was a particularly hard film as far as research was concerned. I thought I knew a lot about the holocaust but when you're researching a film you find out a lot that you didn't know. In a strange way, we had a lot of fun making a very sad film."

Mark's first feature-length project was Blame it on the Bellboy in 1992, a comedy of mistaken identity starring Dudley Moore and Bryan Brown. He went on to write and direct Brassed Off, starring Pete Postlethwaite and Ewan Macgregor, before he adapted and directed Little Voice starring Michael Caine and Jane Horrocks.

Mark, who was born and raised in Bridlington, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts on Thursday 24 July, for his contribution to the arts.

Winner of both the Writers Guild of Great Britain Best Screenplay Award and France's coveted Cesar Award for Best Foreign Film for Brassed Off, Mark was nominated for two BAFTA Awards for Best Screenplay for Little Voice and Brassed Off, and for the British Independent Film Awards Best Screenplay for his film, Purely Belter.

Others receiving honorary degrees from Leeds Metropolitan this week include: chart-toppers and Leeds Met graduates Piers Aggett and Kesi Dryden, who make up half of the award-winning group Rudimental; Leeds mosque leader, Qari Asim; national champion and former professional road racing cyclist, Sid Barras; award-winning artist and Leeds Metropolitan graduate, Charlotte Harris, whose work is featured in the collection of London's National Portrait Gallery; Hanif Malik, founder and Chief Executive of the Hamara Healthy Living Centre - the largest ethnic minority organisation in the voluntary and community sector in Leeds; Chairman of the Leeds Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and champion of the city's Sikh community, Harbans Singh Sagoo, who has played a major part in supporting Sikhs in South Leeds to be a part of mainstream society and former property lawyer Nigel McClea, who has led on some of Yorkshire's largest property projects including the Royal Armouries Museum and the Jorvik Viking Centre.

Leeds Metropolitan University Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Price, said: "As a former student of our predecessor institution, Leeds Polytechnic, it is with particular pleasure that we recognise Mark's inspiring achievements in the film industry and his contribution to the arts. The example set by former graduates like Mark can only fuel the ambition of our current graduating students, and we look forward to welcoming him back to share his experience with this year's cohort."

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