The second edition of the BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express Works-in-Progress showcase will present seven new works made for cinema, television and immersive platforms by emerging British talent. Exclusive extracts from each project will screen, followed by a Q&A with the director and producer, to an invited audience of international buyers and festival programmers, reflecting the increasing international reach of the festival. All projects are recently completed or in production/post-production and the clips will also screen online via a secure platform to a wider pool of invited international industry professionals.

Launched at last year’s festival, the Works-in-Progress showcase is already building a solid legacy. LFF2020 project Sweetheart, directed by Marley Morrison, is currently on release across the UK via distributor Peccadillo Pictures, while Malachi Smyth’s The Score recently screened in TIFF2021’s Industry Selects programme, and both Stacey Gregg’s Here Before and Lee-Haven Jones’ The Feast launched earlier this year at SXSW. The Feast will also have its UK premiere at this year’s LFF alongside fellow 2020 Works-in-Progress title, 8 Bar — The Evolution of Grime, directed by Ewen Spencer.

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The in-person showcase will take place on 9 October and is part of the festival’s drive 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 an invited cohort of international buyers, commissioners, producers and programmers, including a new talent reception and a producers’ lunch. 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.

“International Industry engagement with the LFF has been increasing over the last five years, and we were keen to use this moment to highlight some of the impressive emerging talent in the UK,” says Tricia Tuttle, Festival Director. “It’s vital that independent filmmakers and moving image creatives in the UK are connected to counterparts from across the globe, for co-investment and distribution, but also creative enrichment. And we are looking forward to sharing these diverse and vibrant new projects, and their talented creators, with our invited Industry both in person and at the online showcase.”

The BFI London Film Festival industry programme is supported by The Liberation Initiatives.

The 2021 Works-in-Progress projects are: 

Hong Kong Mixtape

Dir/scr San San F Young, prod Nikki Parrott (documentary)

A Scottish/Hong Kong Chinese producer and director of creative documentaries, San San F Young has a passion for bold dynamic filmmaking that often plays with form and visual language. A former current affairs reporter, followed by years crewing in feature fiction for studios including Working Title, Vertigo and Ealing, her focus is now combining pressing stories with the cinematic. Her work has been commissioned by channels including BBC3, Al Jazeera and VICE, received awards, and been selected for various markets, festivals, and schemes.

Synopsis: Political engagement sparked the wildest of wonderlands for Hong Kong’s creativity, but as a new law annihilates freedom of expression overnight, artists and creatives find themselves targets and their work disappeared.

 Immediately after the National Security Law was imposed in June 2020, the government started an endless list of words, images, books, slogans, songs that were now illegal – making so much that was ‘normal’ forbidden.

 Hong Kong Mixtape weaves in the personal story of San, the director, as we immerse with her and these underground artists, including some of Asia’s most iconic creators – rappers, dancers, performers, illustrators, stunt collectives – as they navigate this authoritarian new normal, and race to preserve Hong Kong’s creative uprising.

Medusa Deluxe

Dir/scr Thomas Hardiman, prods Mike Elliott, Louise Palmkvist Hansen and Lee Groombridge, starring Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Clare Perkins, Darrell D’Silva, Debris Stevenson, Harriett Webb, Kae Alexander, Kayla Meikle, Lilit Lesser, Luke Pasqualino, Nicholas Karimi and Heider Ali (narrative feature)

Tom Hardiman’s work as a writer-director began with a series of short films, including Radical Hardcore, a love story about the history of British carpet making. Released via Dazed & Confused, it was selected as part of Lynne Ramsay’s Electric Shorts series, going on to win the BFI’s Network Pick Series. Following this, with the BFI’s support, Tom recently completed work on the short Pitch Black Panacea, a live action-animation hybrid that charts the progress of two patients undergoing a peculiar corrective treatment for their lazy eyes. Before moving into directing, he worked in various film and television roles, from art director to assistant and line producer, with credits including, Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy, Guy Myhill’s The Goob and the Sky Playhouse series. Medusa Deluxe is his feature directorial debut. 

Synopsis: A murder mystery set in a competitive hairdressing competition.

Pretty Red Dress

Dir/scr Dionne Edwards, prod Georgia Goggin, starring Natey Jones, Alexandra Burke, Temilola Olatunbosun (narrative feature)

Dionne Edwards is a screenwriter and director, currently in post-production for her debut feature film Pretty Red Dress, which was selected for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab in 2019. Her short film We Love Moses screened at over 50 festivals worldwide, including LFF and TIFF, and picked up nine awards, including the Jury Prize at Dinard 2017, Best of British at Encounters 2017 and Short Film of the Year at the Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2018. She also directed That Girl’ a critically-acclaimed 30-minute drama that screened in Channel 4’s On the Edge series in 2018. In 2020 she was one of 11 artists selected for Sundance Institute’s inaugural ‘Women at Sundance: Adobe Fellowship.’

Synopsis: Pretty Red Dress tells the story of Travis, Candice and their daughter Kenisha and their relationships with the same red dress. For Travis, the dress is a peace offering to Candice. For Candice, it’s her audition outfit to play Tina Turner in a fictional musical and a ticket to a different life. For Kenisha, it’s symbolic of a kind of femininity she doesn’t get; she relates to her masculine dad. So when Travis is discovered wearing the dress, it sends the family spinning. Pretty Red Dress is a poignant, funny look at society’s boxes and all the things we do to be loved.

Consensus Gentium

Dir/scr Karen Palmer, prod Tuyết Vân Huỳnh, starring Miriam Teak-Lee, Zachary Hing, Tolu Kingba, Sorcha Farnan, Keon-Martial Phillip, Dean Christie (XR project)

Karen Palmer is the Storyteller from the Future. An international award-winning artist and TED speaker, her work is at the intersection of film, tech, immersive storytelling, neuroscience, behavioural psychology, and parkour. She creates immersive film experiences that watch you back using artificial intelligence and facial recognition. Articles on her have appeared in outlets including Wired Magazine, Forbes, PC Mag, CBS TV, Fast Company, Engadget and The Guardian. She has exhibited at the V&A London, PHI Centre Montreal, FoST & Armoury Arts Week NYC, The Museum of Modern Art Peru, SXSW, SIDF and more. She has spoken at AT&T Shape Conference, L.A, Wired for Wonder Festival Australia, MIT and TEDx Australia. Her film Riot was honoured as Columbia University’s Digital Dozen 2017 and Perception iO received honorary mention for the ARS Electronica STARTS Prize 2020. 

Synopsis: Consensus Gentium is an emotionally responsive film which is experienced on a mobile device. Set in the near future world of an increased surveillance Ssate and bias AI.

The narrative will branch in real time depending on the participant’s eye gaze and emotional response, which enables you to experience potential surveillance technologies.

The experience takes place on an imaginary app to become a global citizen. This app is a hybrid of big tech, the state and behavioural psychology to quantify critical and cognitive thinking through a digital interface.

This app affords the participant certain privileges such as extensive mobility in return for becoming the eyes and ears of the state. During the experience, several characters from techno-activists to friends interact with you through your mobile device reflecting the consequences of your actions on the community. 

Consensus Gentium enables you to experience the future today.

Mosaic/فسيفساء

Dirs Eleanor Nawal and Layla Madanat, prod Sarah Hamed (XR project)

Eleanor Nawal is a British-Egyptian actor and writer from London. Her work explores questions of identity and belonging as sources of trauma and humour. She is excited about the possibilities and power of using film to explore further the idiosyncrasies and subtleties of the SWANA+ diaspora.

Layla Madanat is an interdisciplinary artist and social justice activist from London. Her work asks radical questions, often combining art forms to create bold new narratives and aiming to shift the culture of storytelling in the UK. She is the Peter Hall emerging artist fellow at the Rose Theatre in London, and has worked with a range of humanitarian and artistic organisations across the UK and abroad. Having worked previously with documentary theatre and installation, this is her first film project.

Synopsis:

“my answer to this question can be best illustrated with another story…”

South-West Asia and North Africa (SWANA+) has birthed a generation of young people now living across the globe. Whatever the term, and wherever we are, we find ourselves questioning our identities as SWANA+ descendants.

Both a decolonising of old narratives and an exploration of new ones, MOSAIC/فسيفساء gives young people of the SWANA+ diaspora the power to tell their own story.

Verbatim interviews are complemented by footage crowdsourced from interviewees, contrasted with reclaimed archival footage and accompanied by original music. MOSAIC/فسيفساء is a continuous archival project shared through film arts, bringing together fragments of lives to tell a new story.

All Points North

Dir Glen Milner, prods Ben Hilton, Glen Milner (documentary)

Glen Milner’s early short films quickly gained recognition for their personal approach when dealing with complex subject matters. Films such as Iranian, Gay and Seeking Asylum picked up best LGBTQ film at the New York Short Film Festival, while Channel 4-commissioned Elders was nominated for best British short at Leeds International Film Festival and The Sterling Award at the AFI DOCS in Washington.

Moving into longer form work, his films have received multiple awards and nominations at institutions including the Royal Television Society and The Grierson Trust. BBC films such as Handmade in Hull and Redefining Juliet were praised for challenging the documentary form with their unique visual approach, while The Dying Swan also went onto take the Grand Prix at The Golden Prague Television Festival in 2019. With the support of the Doc Society, BFI Film Fund, All Points North is Glen Milner’s feature documentary debut. 

Synopsis: Composed of intimate and evocative moments capturing the everyday challenges of people at work, All Points North is the story of Yorkshire’s changing industrial landscapes told through its workers. 

Set over several years, the film weaves through the social tapestry of working life in Yorkshire during a period of profound change for the region. By experiencing real life through local and migrant workers, crafters and grafters, the documentary journeys into the soul of the north to look at the way economics, politics and climate change affect ordinary people. 

After witnessing both parents being made redundant at the factories where they had worked all their lives, Glen felt the need to explore the worth and value of workers. Collaborating with poet laureate Simon Armitage, the filmmaker intimately captures the diverse workforces that are so important to the region’s economy, painting a vital and contemporary picture of working life in the north. 

My Name Is Leon

Dir Lynette Linton, scr Shola Amoo, prod Carol Harding, starring Cole Martin, Monica Dolan, Malachi Kirby, Olivia Williams, Lenny Henry, Poppy Lee Friar, Shobna Gulati, Christopher Eccleston (TV narrative feature)

Lynette Linton is a director, playwright, and artistic director of the Bush Theatre. She directed the UK premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer prize winning play Sweat (Donmar Warehouse, Gielgud Theatre), winning her best director at the inaugural Black British Theatre awards. She co-directed Richard II (Shakespeare’s Globe) with Adjoa Andoh in 2019, marking the first ever company of women of colour in a Shakespeare play on a major UK stage. She is co-founder of theatre and film production company Black Apron Entertainment, producing/curating Passages: A Windrush Celebration with the Royal Court. In 2020, she had her television writing debut with Look at Me, part of ITV’s Unsaid Stories.

My Name Is Leon is her television directorial debut, with a screenplay by Shola Amoo adapted from Kit de Waal’s lauded debut novel. Amoo previously wrote and directed The Last Tree, which screened in competition at Sundance 2019 and won the WGGB writers award for best screenplay and two British Independent Film Awards.

Synopsis: This special film tells the uplifting and incredibly moving story, told through the eyes of 10-year-old Leon, a mixed-race boy. We follow his quest to reunite his family after being taken into care and separated from his blonde and blue-eyed baby brother.

We follow his journey, full of energy and hopefulness despite the hardships he encounters, and witness the touching relationship between him and his foster carer Maureen. With his favourite action figure Sergeant Smith by his side, Leon’s adventure leads him to an allotment where he meets Tufty who teaches him valuable lessons about himself, the world, love, and what family, in its various guises, really means.

Set against the backdrop of the race riots in the 1980s Birmingham, this tender, inspiring tale balances gritty realism with charm and gentle humour, exploring the issues of identity and belonging with both urgency and wit. 

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