The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI returns in 2021 with a strong focus on representation and inclusion. For the first time, all films applying for the bursary award will have to meet the BFI Diversity Standards.

With this step, the BFI and IWC Schaffhausen aim to support opportunity for underrepresented filmmakers and raise awareness of the drive towards greater inclusion in the film industry. Created to support filmmakers early in their careers, the £50,000 bursary award has established itself as the most significant bursary of its kind in the UK.

Sign up for BFI London Film Festival emails

Get #LFF news, competitions and ticket release updates.

The bursary winner will be announced at the 65th edition of the BFI London Film Festival 2021 in partnership with American Express. IWC Schaffhausen is the official time partner for the festival, which runs from 6 to 17 October 2021.

This new scope for the bursary coincides with the efforts in place by both organisations to further foster representation and inclusion. The BFI Diversity Standards – which are a requirement for the majority of public funding for film in the UK, as well as categories at the BAFTAs and British Independent Film Awards – encourage projects to address under-representation based on characteristics such as age, disability, race, religion, sex/gender, or socioeconomic background.

“Diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of IWC’s sustainability journey,” comments Franziska Gsell, CMO of IWC Schaffhausen. “We strive to build a diverse workplace culture that is based on trust and respectfulness. Knowing those good intentions are not enough, we created a dedicated global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion council within IWC in 2020. Our goal is to implement a structured long-term program to increase all aspects of diversity and inclusion in our organisation. We are excited to develop the bursary award in association with the BFI in a similar direction, and I am looking forward to discovering the feature submissions we will receive.”

Tricia Tuttle, Director, BFI Festivals, added: “The BFI London Film Festival has long been a space for discovering and celebrating new talent, and the IWC Bursary has allowed the festival to super-charge support for emerging British filmmakers. IWC Schaffhausen also share our passion for making LFF a platform for a diverse range of filmmaking voices, for making the UK industry more inclusive, and this new criteria for the bursary underscores how unwavering they are in these ambitions.”

The £50,000 IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI aims to support a writer and/or director by providing them with the financial stability and time needed to develop their creativity. The bursary affords them the freedom to focus on future projects without the pressure of deadlines or the distraction of taking paid work.

To be eligible for the bursary award, applicants must be UK-based and have their first or second film in official selection at the BFI London Film Festival (LFF). Any filmmaker who is otherwise eligible but whose film has not yet been assessed for the BFI Diversity Standards will have the opportunity to submit it for assessment once the film has been invited to LFF.

UK feature submissions for the BFI London Film Festival are open now, until 17 June, 5pm BST.