Toby MacDonald

United Kingdom, Sweden, 2018 / 95 min / English OV with French & German subt. / Comedy

European Film Academy – Young Audience Award 2019

In this school-set re-working of Cyrano de Bergerac, an awkward but imaginative pupil helps the handsome but spectacularly dim school-hero pursue the daughter of a visiting French teacher.

‘Survival of the fittest’ is the philosophy at all boys boarding school Caldermount. If you’re not a champion on the sports field, you’re a nobody. No one knows this better than bookworm Amberson, who’s been at the bottom of the school’s social ladder since he can remember. When the new French teacher’s fiery daughter Agnes arrives, Amberson’s life is turned upside down. He suddenly finds himself playing matchmaker for Winchester, the school’s handsome but spectacularly dim school-hero in dire need of romantic assistance. Winchester definitely has the looks to win over Agnes but it’s Amberson who has the wits. But as Amberson himself falls for Agnes, will he have the courage to reveal himself to her and stand up for whom he really is?

Sun 05/05 14:00 Cinémathèque EN OV with FR & DE subt. - FREE ENTRY Public

“Taking inspiration from the story of Cyrano de Bergerac, but unfolding against the quintessentially British backdrop of an all-boys boarding school, the feature debut from director Toby MacDonald is a gently eccentric charmer of a film. […] sharp writing […] offers a distinctive take on the somewhat overcrowded field of boarding school-set fiction films. Tonally, it’s closest to the appealingly sweet-natured romance of something like Gregory’s Girl; but there’s a skewering of the absurdity of public school rituals which borders, at times, on the Pythonesque.” Wendy Ide, ScreenDaily, 22/06/2018

“under the surface, Old Boys examines the toxic masculinity of boarding schools in all its futility: those places will not make men of boys; they will leave grown men permanently locked in a boy’s state of mind.” Marko Stojiljković, Cineuropa, 20/11/2018

  • Audience Award – Best Film, Dinard British Film Festival, 2018 (France)
  • Univerciné Jury Prize, Festival Univerciné Britannique, 2018 (France)
Cast & Credits
Alex Lawther, Jonah Hauer-King, Pauline Etienne, Joshua McGuire, Denis Ménochet
Luke Ponte, Freddy Syborn
Nanu Segal
Christian Holm
Max Bellhouse
Andrew Hewitt
Film4, Momac Films
WestEnd Films

Toby MacDonald is a British director who began his career with the very successful, BAFTA-nominated short film Je t'aime John Wayne (2000) which won the TCM prize for Best Short at the London International Film Festival, and screened at numerous festivals including Cannes and Berlin. After his next short Mexicano (2002), he directed the critically acclaimed follow-up Heavy Metal Drummer (2005) which was also nominated for a BAFTA. Strong on characters and casting, with a distinctive photographic look, Toby has directed commercials for brands including French Connection, Lotto, Samsung, M&S, and BT, and as well as the My Life in Film (2004) TV series. Old Boys (2018) is his first feature film.

  • 2018 – Old Boys
  • 2005 – Heavy Metal Drummer (short)
  • 2004 – My Life in Film (6 episodes of the TV series)
  • 2002 – Mexicano (short)
  • 2001 – Table 12 (2 episodes of the TV series)
  • 2000 – Je t’aime John Wayne (short)