Three films backed by BFI Film Fund to premiere at Cannes

Three films from first or second time filmmakers to have world premieres in Cannes’ prestigious International Critics’ Week and Director’s Fortnight, with Andrew Kötting’s Swandown chosen for l’ACID section.


The Selfish Giant (2013)

The Selfish Giant (2013)

Three films backed with Lottery funding through the BFI Film Fund will have world premieres at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in May; all three are from first or second time filmmakers in what looks set to be a ‘discovery year’ for new and emerging UK talent.

The Director’s Fortnight will host the world premiere of The Selfish Giant, the highly anticipated second feature from acclaimed writer/director Clio Barnard (The Arbor), produced by Tracy O’Riordan for Moonspun Films. Irish director Ruairi Robinson’s ambitious sci-fi thriller debut The Last Days on Mars, produced by Michael Kuhn and Andrea Cornwell for Qwerty Films, will also premiere in the Director’s Fortnight. Scottish writer/director Paul Wright’s debut feature, For Those in Peril, produced by Mary Burke and Polly Stokes for Warp Films, will appear in Cannes’ International Critics’ Week. All three films received production funding from the BFI Film Fund, with The Selfish Giant and For Those in Peril also receiving support throughout their development.

Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund, comments:

Well done to Clio, Paul and Ruairi. It’s gratifying to see three such distinctive and personal talents in the spotlight at the world’s biggest film festival, and to see them in the same sections that helped launch the careers of filmmakers like Ken Loach, Stephen Frears and Martin Scorsese. We’re very proud to be involved with each of the films and wish them ‘bon courage’ for the festival.

As well as competing in their festival sections, as debut features both The Last Days on Mars and For Those in Peril are eligible for the Cannes Caméra d’Or award. The prize, presented at the festival’s closing ceremony by the jury president Carlos Diegues, is awarded to the best first film shown either in the Official Selection (Competition or Un Certain Regard), the Directors’ Fortnight or International Critics’ Week.

In addition to the three premieres, Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair’s “playfully absurd” travelogue documentary Swandown has been selected to screen in the France’s Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema (ACID) section, which celebrates innovation and experimentation in filmmaking and aims to giving greater visibility to new talent. The film, which is backed by the BFI Film Fund, is produced by Lisa Marie Russo and executive produced by Kate Ogborn for Fly Film.

For Those in Peril

Aaron, a young misfit living in a remote Scottish fishing community, is the lone survivor of a strange fishing accident that claimed the lives of five men including his older brother. Spurred on by sea-faring folklore and local superstition, the village blames Aaron for this tragedy, making him an outcast among his own people. Steadfastly refusing to believe that his brother has died, he sets out to recover him and the rest of the men.

Written and directed by Paul Wright, who won the 2011 BAFTA for best short for Until the River Runs Red, and produced by Mary Burke and Polly Stokes for Warp Films. The film is a Warp X production backed by Film4, BFI Film Fund, Creative Scotland and Screen Yorkshire.

The Last Days on Mars

The feature debut of Academy Award nominee Ruairi Robinson (Fifty Percent Grey), The Last Days on Mars is based on a short story by Sydney J. Bounds and adapted by Clive Dawson. The film is produced by Michael Kuhn (The Duchess) and Andrea Cornwell (The Scouting Book for Boys).

The Last Days on Mars centres on a group of astronauts on an exploratory mission to Mars who, on the eve of their return to Earth, discover colonies of bacteria living deep within the permafrost. But what should have been the discovery of the century rapidly turns to horror when one of the astronauts has a fatal accident. With just hours to go until the relief crew arrive, the group is faced with a desperate struggle to contain the infection and survive.

The film stars Liev Schreiber (Salt, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) alongside Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer, An Education), Romola Garai (One Day, Atonement), Elias Koteas (Shutter Island, Crash), Tom Cullen (Weekend), Goran Kostic (In the Land of Blood and Honey, Taken) and Johnny Harris (Snow White and the Huntsman, This Is England 86). 

Backed by the BFI Film Fund, Irish Film Board and Prescience, Universal Pictures will release The Last Days on Mars in the UK.

The Selfish Giant

The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about 13-year-old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighbourhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrapdealer – the Selfish Giant.  They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten – keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favours Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys. Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, becoming more like Kitten. Tensions build, leading to a tragic event, which transforms them all.

Written and directed by Clio Barnard, who won widespread critical acclaim and multiple awards for her debut, The Arbor, an experimental documentary about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. The film is produced by Tracy O’Riordan for Moonspun Films and backed by BFI Film Fund and Film4.


Swandown is a travelogue and odyssey of Olympian ambition; a poetic film-diary about encounter, myth and culture. It is also an endurance test and pedal-marathon in which Andrew Kötting (the filmmaker) and Iain Sinclair (the writer) pedal a swan-shaped pedalo from the seaside in Hastings to Hackney in London, via the English inland waterways. With a nod to Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and a pinch of Dada, Swandown documents their epic journey, on which they are joined by invited guests including comedian Stewart Lee, writer Alan Moore and actor Dudley Sutton.

Swandown is a Fly Film production. Directed by Andrew Kötting and written and co-plotted by Iain Sinclair, the film is backed by BFI Film Fund, in association with Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation, Abandon Normal Devices, Cornerhouse Artist Film and Screen South. The producer is Lisa Marie Russo, executive producers are Kate Ogborn and Marc Munden.

Swandown has been picked up for distribution in France by ED Distribution who plan to release the film in the autumn. It is distributed in the UK by Cornerhouse Artist Film with international sales handled by Wavelength Pictures.

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