Tilda Swinton announces winners of inaugural BFI & Chanel Filmmaker Awards

The awards were presented to four emerging UK film creatives at LUMINOUS, the BFI’s fundraising gala.

30 September 2022

Tilda Swinton at BFI LUMINOUS © Dave Benett

Oscar-winning actor, BFI Fellow and global Chanel ambassador Tilda Swinton tonight presented on stage the four winners of the new BFI & Chanel Filmmaker Awards: Celebrating Creative Audacity at LUMINOUS, the BFI’s biannual fundraising gala. As chair of the awards jury, she presented four exciting and emerging UK film creatives – selected for their creative audacity, and their ambition to explore a new dynamic to their practice – with a prize of £20,000 each. The winning filmmakers of the 2022 awards are: 

  • Baff Akoto, artist/director (producer of Queen of Glory) 
  • Kathryn Ferguson, director/co-writer (Nothing Compares)
  • Sam Firth, director/producer (The Wolf Suit)
  • Erfan Saadati, director/producer (Child of Empire)

Swinton presented the filmmakers with the award in front of a host of UK industry stars and luminaries, there to celebrate the BFI’s education work and raise vital funds to enable more young people across the UK to access the BFI’s support to find their way into a career in film.

Tilda Swinton chaired the 2022 BFI & Chanel Filmmaker Awards jury, alongside Edward Enninful OBE, British Vogue editor-in-chief, Marie-Louise Khondji, producer and founder of Le Cinéma Club, and BFI CEO Ben Roberts.

Tilda Swinton, said:  “We’ve selected four remarkable filmmakers, each of them very different in their approaches and their disciplines, but all properly worthy winners. This award from the BFI and Chanel sets out to support early career creatives, to help them reach their fullest potential by giving them the freedom to invest in their artistry to develop their individual voice and create work that inspires, challenges and nourishes. The choices we had to make were not easy, but we are so proud of our inaugural winners – they are certainly audacious and singular to a degree and we are fully confident that they will make the most of the grace, emancipation and confidence this award will afford them to create a safe space to focus on their work and on their evolution as original artists.”

What the jury said about the winners

Baff Akoto, artist/director (eligible as producer of Queen of Glory):

“A compelling multi-disciplinary artist, Baff’s work as a producer on the fantastic transatlantic and trans-cultural collaboration that is Queen of Glory particularly impressed us. Supporting an emerging producer, and one who shows this level of potential, is exactly who this award must be for. We hope it enables him to bring more authentic and expansive stories to the screen, and confirms that creatives who can occupy multiple roles are an important part of this industry and its future, and no longer on the outside.”

Kathryn Ferguson, director/writer (eligible as director/co-writer of Nothing Compares):

“With a great collection of boundary-pushing documentary shorts under her belt, we loved Kathryn’s debut feature, Nothing Compares. A beautiful portrait of a feminist, and an important story that speaks to the damage inflicted when the media target outspoken women, we also got a real sense of Kathryn’s assured filmmaking style and her ability to craft and construct a powerful and deeply moving story. We hope this award allows her to stay true to her creativity and subjects that ignite her passion.”

Sam Firth, director/producer (eligible as director/producer of The Wolf Suit):

“Sam is a brave artist, who, with The Wolf Suit, created and shared an exposing and wonderful film. Through her body of work, we found Sam to be doing something completely mysterious – producing work that is consistently extraordinary and very personal, yet all very different. She invests in the process, as much as she invests in the final product. This is not a filmmaker who fits neatly into a box or can easily be defined, and therefore may find it hard to secure the funding and support. She was a clear choice for this award, because we wanted to support and nurture her pure creative audacity.” 

Erfan Saadati, director/producer (eligible as director/producer of Child of Empire):

“Erfan demonstrates a real commitment to immersive work, and is someone who is constantly seeking to drive the form forward, to disrupt and invent. While his work was authoritative and confident in its quietness, we felt his ambition was boundless. We not only wanted to support Erfan so he can continue to experiment, but also because he is clearly committed to telling important and authentic stories, that are little seen in the XR space or elsewhere for that matter.”

The awards will provide the winning filmmakers with the financial and creative freedom to expand their craft, develop future projects, gain further skills, explore new ideas, and can also be used to support a residency or entry to a creative programme. The jury’s decision and their deliberation covered the filmmaker’s body of work and the strength of their application, and each nominee had to have a work on release and/or showcased between 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2022 to be eligible. 


BFI LUMINOUS is our biennial fundraising gala. This year, special guests included a host of luminaries and industry stars including Hayley Atwell, Tom Bateman, Emily Beecham, Laura Carmichael, Gurinder Chadha, Morfydd Clark, Dame Joan Collins, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Bella Freud, Stephen Fry, Ncuti Gatwa, Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor, Terry Gilliam, David Harewood, Konnie Huq, Lily James, Aleem Khan, Jemima Khan, Malachi Kirby, Steve McQueen, Nana Mensah, Ol Parker, Yana Peel, Sandy Powell, Eddie Redmayne, Daisy Ridley, Charlotte Riley, Craig Roberts, Mika Simmons, Trudie Styler, Amita Suman, Honor Swinton Byrne, Rebel Wilson and Edgar Wright.

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