Four of Britain’s brightest new filmmakers shortlisted for UK film’s biggest bursary

In contention for the £50k IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI are Joseph a. Adesunloye, Hope Dickson Leach, Alice Lowe and Paul Anton Smith.

Paul Anton Smith, Alice Lowe, Joseph a Adesunloye and Hope Dickson Leach

Paul Anton Smith, Alice Lowe, Joseph a Adesunloye and Hope Dickson Leach

At a launch event this morning at BFI Southbank, the BFI and IWC Schaffhausen revealed the four finalists vying for the first ever IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI – at £50k, the most significant bursary of its kind in the UK film industry.

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI comments:

“This extraordinary partnership and the generosity of our friends at IWC Schaffhausen is enabling us to support exciting up-and-coming British talent in a truly dynamic way. We have an incredible shortlist of filmmakers and a very difficult decision to make.”

Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, comments:

“IWC proudly supports film through our many film festival partnerships the world over and are delighted to have so many talented directors and writers selected as the finalists for our Filmmaker Bursary Award here in the UK for the first time.”

The Bursary Award is presented in recognition of outstanding British talent and is designed to support a writer and/or director at the beginning of their career, bringing them the financial stability and time needed to develop their creativity and focus on future projects without the pressure of deadlines or the distraction of taking paid work – a precious and extremely rare opportunity for a filmmaker.

To be eligible for the Bursary Award a writer and/or director must be UK-based and have their first or second film in Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival in Partnership with American Express®. The high calibre of shortlisted applicants is testament to the vibrant creativity alive in British independent filmmaking. Drawn from a longlist of 15 entries, the final four show a diversity of voices and styles, working across comedy, horror, drama, and artist film and video to present original work with a distinctive tone. 

Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund said:

“This is a happy shortlist for many reasons. All four filmmakers are on very different paths in terms of their filmmaking, each has already developed an enviable confidence and style, and this bursary would greatly benefit any of them. Thank you to IWC for helping us give a platform and opportunity to such exciting British talent.”

Clare Stewart, Director of the BFI London Film Festival said:

“It is not only the Bursary itself that is of significant value, IWC have created an opportunity for the LFF to play a direct role in bringing all the new and emerging UK-based talent with films in the Festival to the attention of key industry decision-makers through the shortlisting process. I am thrilled that the nominations give full expression to the breadth and diversity of British independent filmmaking as well as the Festival’s programme. I thank our partners at IWC, the shortlisting panel and I warmly congratulate the nominated filmmakers.”

In a unique partnership that unlocks direct philanthropic support for UK creativity and the future of British film, the Filmmaker Bursary Award was created by Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen and experts from the BFI. IWC Schaffhausen has been a sponsor of the BFI and the Official Time Partner of the BFI London Film Festival since 2014.

The final four in contention for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI are:

Joseph a. Adesunloye – writer, director of White Colour Black, screening in LFF’s Journey strand (World Premiere)

British-Nigerian filmmaker Joseph has a Masters of Arts English Literature & Film Studies from the University of Aberdeen and also attended the London Film Academy. After freelancing in film he set up his own film production company, DreamCoat Productions. He also established Screening Africa and soon began programming for film festivals including Film Africa and heads South by South, a quarterly African film programme at the South London Gallery. In 2012 he was commissioned to direct a play he co-wrote as part of Nigeria’s Olympic celebrations, ‘Labalaba’ adapted from a feature screenplay of Madame Butterfly. In 2013 he was one of the producers of a feature film called MLE, a British/Canadian co-production. In 2014 his short film Beyond Plain Sight premiered at Raindance Film Festival and was nominated ‘Best British Short Film’. The film went on to play BFI Flare LGBT Film Festival and other festivals. White Colour Black is his first feature film as a director.

White Colour Black (2016)

White Colour Black (2016)

Joseph a. Adesunloye said:

“The Bursary Award would allow greater artistic freedom to develop my work and provide the opportunity for me to live whilst doing so. It would also represent an enormous chance for me because of the network the BFI can offer. I am keenly interested in developing work that is both artistic and commercially viable in the British film space and I bring a new voice to British film, with new perspectives.”

Hope Dickson Leach – writer, director of The Levelling, screening in LFF’s Official Competition strand (European Premiere)

Edinburgh-based Hope completed her MFA in filmmaking at Columbia University where she made three short films that played at festivals worldwide. While in New York she was assistant to Todd Solondz on his film, Palindromes. Hope’s award-winning thesis short film, The Dawn Chorus, was selected for Sundance, Edinburgh, London and many other festivals. Screen International made her a Star of Tomorrow in 2007 and Filmmaker Magazine named her one of the ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film’. Since her return to the UK, she has made further acclaimed short works for Channel 4, Film London, the UK Film Council and the National Theatre of Scotland. Her debut feature The Levelling, produced by Wellington Films, funded by BBC Films, the BFI and Creative England as part of the iFeatures scheme, has just premiered at Toronto International Film Festival ahead of its LFF presentation. She is also currently developing several other features and is a co-founder of Raising Films, a campaign to make the film industry more parent-friendly.

The Levelling (2016)

The Levelling (2016)

Hope Dickson Leach said:

“The time between first and second features can be worryingly protracted – especially for female filmmakers. So I want to move faster, while having the luxury of quality, creative time. By supporting my next feature, the Bursary Award would also support emerging filmmakers looking for female role models in feature filmmaking, and audiences hungry for more diverse stories and storytellers.”

Alice Lowe – writer, director of Prevenge, screening in LFF’s Laugh strand (UK Premiere)

London-based Alice is a writer, performer and director, known for her work in comedy. She starred in Garth Marenghi’s celebrated, award-winning Channel 4 series Darkplace and also The Mighty Boosh and Horrible Histories, and has appeared in films including Hot Fuzz, Locke and Paddington. Alice made her screenwriting debut in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, which premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes and also LFF in 2012, in which she also starred as Tina. Sightseers won many accolades for Alice, including Best Screenplay at the British Independent Film Awards and Breakthrough British Filmmaker at the London Critics’ Circle Awards. Her first short film as a director, Solitudo won Best Horror Short at Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival and her first feature, Prevenge – which she wrote, starred in and directed whilst 7-8 months pregnant – opened Critics Week at Venice ahead of its premiere at the LFF.

Prevenge (2016)

Prevenge (2016)

Alice Lowe said:

“Prevenge was my deliberate baby-shaped hand grenade that I wanted to throw into the industry. I want to make sci-fi, period drama, comedy, art. I don’t see any limits. Too often I feel women become the ‘midwives’ of creativity. I want to birth my own films. And I’ve only just started.”

Paul Anton Smith – director of Have You Seen My Movie?, screening in LFF’s Experimenta strand (World Premiere)

Paul Anton Smith is a London-based filmmaker and visual artist originally from Canada. He has previously worked as Assistant Editor on visual artist Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video installation ‘The Clock’ (2010), as well as Lead Animator of Christian Marclay’s ‘Surround Sounds’ (2015) and, most recently, ‘Six New Animations’ (2016). Have You Seen My Movie? is his first feature film.

Have You Seen My Movie? (2016)

Have You Seen My Movie? (2016)

Paul Anton Smith said:

“Have You Seen My Movie? is a montage in camouflage, an appropriation of moviemaking and a hijacking of moviegoing. The inaugural IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award would enable me to develop future projects such as a filmed narrative feature but, for now, I would simply like to extend my humble gratitude to IWC Schaffhausen and the BFI for their encouragement and their support of my film, which is representative of a 21st century, ever evolving art form and of the theatrical experience as being the most critical component of what we call “magic” at the movies.”

A prestigious shortlisting panel including director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It like Beckham and upcoming Viceroy’s House), Joe Oppenheimer, Acting Head of BBC Films, and Rose Garnett, Head of Development at Film4, alongside Bursary Award architects Clare Stewart, Director of the BFI London Film Festival and Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund, selected the final four filmmakers.

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, and a key representative of the UK film industry, to be announced soon, will decide which filmmaker benefits from this extraordinary opportunity and will award them the bursary at the glittering IWC Gala Dinner in honour of the BFI to be held at the Rosewood in London on 4 October 2016.

The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI follows a long tradition of the brand’s commitment to and support of the film industry – evidenced by its established partnerships with the Tribeca Film Festival, the Dubai International Film Festival, Zurich Film Festival, the Beijing International Film Festival and the Singapore International Film Festival, as well as the brand’s long-standing relationships with high profile film talent, including Christoph Waltz and Cate Blanchett, all of which demonstrates IWC’s ongoing passion for film.

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