BFI Future Film Festival announces award winners for 2023 edition

Winners across nine categories in the prestigious BFI Future Film Festival Awards have been given prizes totalling more than £12,000, plus invaluable mentorships from industry leaders.

Underbelly (2023)

The BFI Future Film Festival 2023 came to a close on Sunday, with the winners of the BFI Future Film Festival awards announced online and in person at BFI Southbank. The talented young filmmakers aged 16 to 25 that took home prizes included Edie Moles (Best New Talent and Best Film for Underbelly) and Ade Femzo (Best Director for Drop Out).

These three awards were judged by the BFI’s esteemed festival jury, who announced their choices at tonight’s ceremony, chaired by filmmaker Peter Kosminsky (Wolf Hall) and including actors Kit Connor (Heartstopper) and Bella Ramsey (The Last of Us, Game of Thrones), writer-director Matthew Jacobs Morgan (The Rig) and critic and author Hanna Flint (Strong Female Character).

Collectively the jury said: “We were blown away by the exceptional talent on display while reviewing this wonderful selection of films, which are testament to the clever, nuanced storytelling skills possessed by this next generation of filmmakers. These young directors have all shown they have an authentic viewpoint, producing a real mix of funny, emotional, intimate and thought-provoking work with a clear vision.”

A further seven awards were presented during the ceremony, all judged by industry experts, with winners including Lije Morgan (Best Animation for Interdimensional Pizza Pushers), Radheya Jegatheva (Best Documentary for Pacing the Pool), Clemente Lohr (Best Experimental Film for Canned), Aleah Scott (Best Micro Short for Safe), Thomas Percy Kim (Best International Film and Best Writer for Busan, 1999) and Klara Bond (Best International Film – Special Mention for Being Human). The winners were awarded prizes including money totalling more than £12,000 and mentoring support, generously offered by this year’s festival partners. The awards were hosted by Eki Maria.

Best New Talent – Underbelly

The jury selected Underbelly, which follows apprentice butcher Norman as he tries to support his sister through her severe postpartum depression – with devastating consequences. The Best New Talent award is supported by Warner Bros Discovery, with the winner Edie Moles receiving a prize of £4,000 plus a mentoring package.

Best Film – Underbelly

The jury also selected Underbelly. The Best Film award is supported by the Chapman Charitable Trust, with the winner Edie Moles receiving a prize of £1,000.

Collectively the jury said of the film: “It was clear to us that Underbelly was made with real love for the art of filmmaking, as well as an intense passion for the important message. Deeply affecting and engaging, with an impeccable sense of space and character and an exceptional performance by Stephen John McMillan at the centre, every element of the production comes together to make something remarkable. This truly is an incredible achievement from a young new talent in Edie Moles, who we cannot wait to see more from.”

Best Director – Drop Out

The jury selected Drop Out, which follows a struggling student who tells his strict African mother that he’s dropped out of school. When it doesn’t go well, he goes back in time to try again. The Best Director award is supported by Triple Exposure, with the winner Ade Femzo receiving a prize of £1,000 and a mentoring package.

Collectively the jury said of the film: “Authentic, funny and culturally rich, Drop Out is like nothing we’ve seen in a long time. With touches of an Edgar Wright-like sensibility in its camera movements and lashings of humour, this is box fresh filmmaking which shows us that Ade Femzo is a genuine and promising young director.”

In addition to the three awards judged by the BFI’s esteemed jury, the following competition categories have been judged by BFI and industry experts:

Best Animation – Interdimensional Pizza Pushers

The Best Animation award is supported by BlinkInk and judged by Bart Yates, Executive Producer/Partner of BlinkInk. Lije Morgan wins £1,000 and a mentoring package for Interdimensional Pizza Pushers, which stars Honeybear and Fishlips as they race through dimensions and animation styles to make their pizza deliveries on time.

Best Documentary – Pacing the Pool

The Best Documentary award is supported by Netflix and judged by Jonny Taylor, director of Documentary Film – EMEA at Netflix. Radheya Jegatheva wins £1,000 and a mentoring package for Pacing the Pool, which offers a glimpse into the extraordinary life of Richard Pace, who finds that healing waters have helped him rise above his physical and mental stresses.

Best Experimental Film – Canned

The Best Experimental Film award is supported by Black Dog Films and judged by Martin Roker, Global Head of Black Dog Films. Clemente Lohr wins £1,000 in prize money and a mentoring package for Canned, which follows a mid-20s raver, desperately searching for something hidden in her flat while her friend attempts to teach her the meaning of love.

Best International Film – Busan, 1999

The Best International Film award is supported by the London School of English and judged by Timothy Blake, Chairman of London School of English. Thomas Percy Kim wins £1,000 for Busan, 1999, which sees a pregnant Korean-American woman return to Korea and her mother. They bathe and scrub each other, hoping to heal past wounds.

Best International Film – Special Mention – Being Human

The Best International Film – Special Mention Award is supported by the London School of English and judged by Timothy Blake, chairman of London School of English. Klara Bond wins £750 for Being Human, which follows eight people who, in various ways, have a connection. We get a glimpse into their inner thoughts – which can be heavy to carry alone.

Best Micro Short – Safe

The Best Micro Short Award is supported by BFI Network and judged by their team. Aleah Scott wins £1,000 in prize money and a mentoring package for Safe, which examines the first-hand true accounts of young women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, and the long-term effects of such violations.

Best Writer – Busan, 1999

The Best Writer award is supported by Action Xtreme and judged by Chee Keong Cheung, CEO of Action Xtreme. Thomas Percy Kim also wins £1,000 in prize money and a mentoring package for Busan, 1999.

All 55 short films in the BFI Future Film Festival programme are available to watch for free on the BFI YouTube channel until 2 March in a dedicated playlist.

BFI Player logo

Stream new, cult and classic films

A free trial, then just £4.99/month or £49/year.

Try 14 days free