Projects announced for LFF Works-in-Progress showcase

Five new feature films and documentaries by UK-based filmmakers will be presented at our annual BFI London Film Festival showcase of works in progress.

26 September 2023

Low Rider, one of the films screening as a work in progress at this year’s festival
London Film Festival

The fourth edition of the BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express Works-in-Progress Showcase will present five new feature films and documentaries by UK-based filmmakers at Picturehouse Central.

The selection of these UK films still in production or post-production offers an opportunity to discover fiction and documentary features from emerging directors at their debut or second feature stage.

This showcase is a key part of the festival’s UK Talent Days, in partnership with the British Council, a weekend of events and activities designed to spotlight the diversity of UK talent and to foster international networking and business opportunities for filmmakers and companies supporting the films.

The showcase event screens exclusive extracts from each project introduced by their filmmakers to an invited audience of international buyers as well as UK sales agents and festival programmers, reflecting the increasing international reach of the festival, followed by a networking event with the filmmakers and invited industry guests. The projects are either in production or post-production. The online package will also be available online for one week from 7 October via a secure platform to a wider pool of invited international industry professionals.

The Works-in-Progress showcase continues to support featured projects break into the market for domestic and international audiences. From last year’s showcase, Girl written and directed by Adura Onashile which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and will screen at LFF selection, alongside Hoard written and directed by Luna Carmoon, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, and Scala!!!, the documentary by filmmakers Jane Giles and Ali Catterall, following its premiere at the 2023 Cinema Ritrovato. 

From the 2021 showcase, Dionne Edwards’s Pretty Red Dress had its world premiere at last year’s LFF and Thomas Hardimann’s Medusa Deluxe premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival and then screened at the LFF. From the LFF2020 showcase, Malachi Smyth’s The Score has been released in the US and UK; and Stacey Gregg’s Here Before followed its SXSW premiere winning the feature film award at the Galway Film Fleadh and a UK release. Lee-Haven Jones’s The Feast has been screened at several international festivals while 8 Bar — The Evolution of Grime, directed by Ewen Spencer received its world premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest last year.

BFI London Film Festival director Kristy Matheson said: “My thanks to the filmmakers for presenting their work with us. It’s a great privilege to welcome these teams to London to meet with industry leaders, distributors and financiers as well as other creators. We look forward to seeing their fruitful creative and business collaborations that will emerge at the festival.”

The in-person showcase will take place on Saturday 7 October as part of the festival’s UK Talent Days focus to support and promote UK talent. Working in partnership with the British Council, the LFF will provide a series of opportunities for UK talent from across the screen sectors to network and meet with invited international buyers, commissioners, producers and programmers. In addition, the annual Buyers & Sellers event returns as an in-person fixture at which international sales agents can meet with UK buyers, and NETWORK@LFF will host masterclasses and events for 12 trailblazing UK-based writers, directors and producers to learn from leading international filmmakers and industry executives at the festival.

The 2023 Works-in-Progress projects

The Ceremony

Dir-wr Jack King; prods Hollie Bryan, Lucy Meer; cast Tudor Cucu-Dumitrescu, Erdal Yildiz. In post-production. Sales contact — Cosmosquare Films, Strive Films

A self-taught writer and director from Yorkshire, Jack started out making music videos for independent and major record labels which racked up repeated Vimeo staff picks and millions of views online. He made a string of independent shorts before The Crossing was funded by the BFI and Creative England (awarding funds from the National Lottery), and selected to play at multiple BAFTA and American Academy qualifying festivals. His independent short Prints was shot on a tiny budget in Japan and was selected to play in competition at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival (2019). Jack was selected to participate in NETWORK@LFF in 2019 and Edinburgh Talent Lab in 2021. His most recent short Predators was funded by BFI NETWORK (using National Lottery funding) and will also premiere at this year’s festival. While in post-production with The Ceremony, Jack is developing his second feature, Sunburn, an Andalusian-set thriller that was selected for the 2022 Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Talent Lab Connects programme.

The Ceremony is an existential road drama about a migrant worker and his colleague who, with only a single day and night to find a burial ground for a departed colleague, find their quest hampered by their moral and spiritual differences.

Harder than the Rock

Dir Mark Warmington; prods Mark Warmington, Jeremiah Cullinane; co-producer James Baxter; cast Locksley Gichie, Franklyn Dunn, Michael Arkk, Winston Reedy. About to start post-production. Sales contact — Margot Films

Filmmaker Mark Warmington is originally from Northern Ireland and has lived in north-west London for 20 years. He recently relocated to the north-east of England. He has directed for television, but his career is mostly dominated by his work as a director of photography. Harder Than The Rock is his feature directorial debut. Mark’s cinematography credits on films include Calcio: The Blood Of Florence (2017), Paul Weller: Find The Torch (2010), the short Somewhere I’ve Been (2021) and the BFI-funded short Pole (2022); TV series including the BBC’s Top Gear and the Amazon series All or Nothing: NZ All Blacks. He has also shot music videos for artists including Maverick Sabre, Hollie Cook, Tom Walker and Paul Weller.

Reggae exploded in the 1970s and Cimarons, the UK’s first reggae band, formed in 1967, were at its heart. Thousands of miles from Jamaica, they brought excitement, experimentation and sheer anticipation to a new generation of Black British youth, putting them in touch with their roots.

Harder than the Rock celebrates Cimaron’s storied history and explores the band’s overlooked impact and influence as they persevere against all odds and dream of playing to live audiences again, one last time…

Low Rider

Dir Campbell X; wrs: Campbell X, Stephen Strachan; prods Stella Nwimo, Rebecca Long; cast Emma McDonald, Thishiwe Ziqubu. In post-production. Sales contact — Boudica Entertainment

Campbell X’s work deals with queer memory, desire and Blackness across the African diaspora. He directed the award-winning queer urban romantic comedy feature Stud Life, which was voted by The Guardian as one of the top 10 Black British feature films over the past 40 years. Stud Life is in the Criterion Channel’s Masc Collection. Campbell’s latest film, the short Still We Thrive, about Black joy and resistance, is now screening globally at film festivals. He directed and produced the short film Des!re about joy and sensuality for men (trans and non-binary) and masculine women (ie studs/butches), while the documentary Visible looks at reclaiming QTBIPOC UK history.

Londoner Quinn is at a crossroads. When her mother suddenly dies, Quinn’s search for her errant South African father begins. Quinn’s impulsive mission to reconnect with him, is not as straightforward as she’d imagined and a chance encounter in Cape Town with the mysterious Harley, offering to help Quinn on the journey to connect with her father, takes Quinn on a tumultuous, twisty turn through Western Capes’ underbelly and backwaters. In this Black queer road trip adventure, Quinn is confronted with the realities of her identity, the truth and lies of her past.

Smoking Shores

Dir David Warwick; pro Dewi Gregory. Filming. Sales contact — Truth Department.

David Warwick is a writer-director whose films draw on a particular interest in place, landscape and the immediacy of physical experience, as well as debates within contemporary philosophy and critical theory. His short film Out For A Walk screened at numerous film festivals such as the Drama International Short Film Festival, Filmfestival Kitzbühel and Aesthetica Short Film Festival. David works as a director of commercials and documentary content for well-known brands and charities, alongside media organisations such as The Guardian. He previously worked as a film journalist, and as an associate producer for Portland Green, where he facilitated film projects by leading artists such as the Brothers Quay, Simon Keenlyside, Wayne McGregor and Lucian Freud. David is also a keen surfer and co-founder of the research collective, Res Communis.

In the shadow of Port Talbot steelworks, generations of local surfers ride waves of uncertainty in this unlikely surf spot.

A Winter’s Journey

Dir-wr Alex Helfrecht; prods Jorg Tittel, Richard Mansell, Hugh Welchman; cast John Malkovich, Martina Gedeck, Jason Isaacs, Marcin Czarnik, Ólafur Darri Ólaffsson, Gabriella Moran. In post-production. Sales company — MK2 Films

Born in Oxford in 1979, Alex grew up in France and the Caribbean. Specialising in adaptation Alex Helfrecht’s films include the multi-award nominated The White King, co-directed with Jörg Tittel, and starring Jonathan Pryce, Fiona Shaw and Agyness Deyn; and the agit-prop short Nyet! A Brexit Border Farce, starring Olivia Williams, Garry Mountaine and Beatie Edney. Alex also adapted Ernest Hemingway’s Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises for the West End stage at Trafalgar Studios. She is currently developing a documentary film the Trojan Women, a radical reworking of the Euripides play told entirely by female survivors, as a co-production with the National Theatre of Greece. It will involve walking 250 miles across the Peloponnese and performing in the magnificent Odeon of Herodus Atticus.

Bavaria, 1812. A lovelorn young poet banished from society is forced to wander across mountains, ice and snow, on a dangerous journey which will either lead him to death or to a new life.

Girl, Hoard, Scala!!!, Pretty Red Dress, Medusa Deluxe and The Feast are films which have been co-funded by the BFI Filmmaking Fund with National Lottery money,

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