Three British filmmakers – Cathy Brady, writer/director of her debut feature Wildfire, Aleem Khan, writer/ director of his debut feature After Love and Francis Lee, writer/director of his sophomore feature Ammonite – are shortlisted for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award which will be announced at the 2020 BFI London Film Festival.
Acclaimed actor, director, screenwriter, producer and poet, Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You, Black Earth Rising, Chewing Gum, Black Mirror, Been So Long) will join Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI and Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, to select the winner.
At £50,000, and now in its 5th year, it has established itself as the most significant bursary of its kind in the UK film industry, expressly designed to support the future careers of exceptional new UK film talent.
Previous recipients include writer/directors, Rose Glass (Saint Maud) in 2019, Richard Billlingham (Ray & Liz) in 2018, Daniel Kokotajlo (Apostasy) in 2017. Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling) was awarded the first Bursary in 2016. Dickson Leach, cofounder of Raising Films, campaigns for improved working practices for parents and carers and is currently developing several new feature films in the US and UK. Following their wins, Daniel Kokotajlo and Richard Billingham were both nominated for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or
Producer at the BAFTAs in 2017 and 2018 respectively, with Billingham going on to win The Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Directors at the British Independent Film Awards. Rose Glass’ debut Saint Maud is released in the UK this Autumn.
The Bursary Award exists to support some of the UK’s brightest and best filmmakers and the nominees also have a strong track record of successes over the last four years.. Director Harry Wootlif (Only You), shortlisted in 2018, went on to win The Douglas Hickox Award for Debut Director at the British Independent Film Awards last year and will soon direct True Things About Me, based on her adaptation of the novel by Deborah Kay Davies and starring Ruth Wilson. Filmmaker Michael Pearce (Beast) went on to win the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut in 2019 and fellow 2017 shortlistee Rungano Nyoni (I Am Not A Witch), was awarded the Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship in partnership with the BFI and Film4 in 2018. 2019 shortlisted filmmakers Hong Khaou (Monsoon) and Peter Mackie Burns (Rialto) will have their sophomore features released in the UK on 25 September and 2 October respectively.
The panel commented on the 2020 shortlist: “As a panel we were excited by the breadth of talented new filmmakers in this year’s programme and selecting only three was extremely hard. Our shortlisted filmmakers Cathy Brady (Wildfire), Aleem Khan (After Love) and Francis Lee (Ammonite)
moved us with rich, distinct stories from authentic perspectives and demonstrated true excellence in the craft of filmmaking. As a glimpse of what UK film can offer, it’s incredibly exciting.”
The final three in contention for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI are:
Writer & director of WILDFIRE – (European Premiere)
About Cathy: Screen International Star of Tomorrow and NFTS graduate Cathy Brady is a twotime IFTA-winning director, for her short films Small Change and Morning. Morning was also nominated for European Academy Award for Best short. In 2011 Cathy directed the BIFAnominated TV drama Rough Skin for Channel 4’s Coming Up strand. In 2014, she directed an episode of Jack Thorne’s BAFTA-nominated series Glue and went on to co-develop and direct the first series of Stefanie Preissner’s Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope for RTE/BBC3/Netflix. In 2017 Cathy was one of fifteen female directors selected for BAFTA Elevate and in 2019 she was selected as one of The Irish Times ‘50 People to Watch’. Her debut feature Wildfire, (backed the by the BFI, Northern Ireland Screen and Screen Ireland) which she wrote and directed, stars Nora-Jane Noone and Nika McGuigan and had its world premiere at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.
Wri-Dir Cathy Brady, Prods Carlo Cresto-Dina, Charles Steel, David Collins. With Nora-Jane Noone, Nika McGuigan. UK & Ireland. 2020. 100min. Sales Film Constellation.
The story of two sisters who grew up on the fractious Irish border. When one of them, who has been missing, finally returns home, the intense bond with her sister is re-ignited. Together they unearth their mother’s past but uncovered secrets and resentments which have been buried deep, threaten to overwhelm them.
Cathy Brady said: “It is such an honour to be on the shortlist and in such talented company. Thank you. I’m still in shock.”
Writer & director of AFTER LOVE – Festival Gala (European Premiere)
About Aleem: Born and raised in Kent, Aleem Khan is a writer and director of mixed EnglishPakistani heritage. His debut short film, Diana, premiered at the 2009 London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. His subsequent short, Three Brothers, was commissioned by Film London on the inaugural London Calling Plus scheme and premiered at the 2014 London Film Festival before touring the international festival circuit. A BAFTA nomination for Best British Short Film followed in 2015 and later that year, Aleem was named a Screen International Star of Tomorrow. A 2017 Fellow of both the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs, Aleem is also an alumnus of Guiding Lights, The Locarno Filmmakers Academy and BFI Flare. His debut feature, After Love, was backed by BBC Films and the BFI and was selected for this year’s Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week, and also received an Official Selection at the Telluride Film Festival ahead of its LFF premiere.
Wri-Dir Aleem Khan. Prod Matthieu de Braconier. With Joanna Scanlan, Nathalie Richard, Talid Ariss. UK. 89mins. Sales The Bureau Sales.
Set in the coastal town of Dover in the south of England, After Love follows Mary Hussain, a sixtytwo year old English Muslim convert who suffers an identity crisis after her husband, Ahmed, dies unexpectedly of a heart attack. In the days after Ahmed’s death, Mary discovers that he has a secret
family living just twenty-one miles across the English Channel in Calais, and sets out on a journey to find them, and herself.
Aleem Khan said: “This is such an incredible acknowledgement and rare opportunity, thank you to IWC Schaffhausen, the BFI and pre-selecting panel for including me in the shortlist – and what wonderful filmmakers to be shortlisted alongside also.”
Writer & Director of AMMONITE – LFF Closing Night Film (European Premiere)
About Francis: Francis Lee is a filmmaker from West Yorkshire, England. His debut feature film, God’s Own Country (2017), premiered at Sundance 2017, where Francis won the Directing Award. The film went on to be theatrically released world-wide, winning countless awards and nominations including Best Film British Independent Film Awards 2017, Best Film Evening Standard Film Awards, Michael Powell Award for Best British Film 2017, Breakthrough British Filmmaker of the Year London
Critics Circle Film Awards 2017 and a nomination for the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film 2017. God’s Own Country became one of the most successful UK debut films for years. Ammonite, which was selected in Cannes, Telluride and the Toronto International Film Festival 2020 is his second feature, and is due for theatrical release world wide 2020/21. Ammonite was backed by the BFI and BBC Films who both supported the development with See-Saw Films.
Wri-Dir Francis Lee. Prods Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly. With Kate Winslet, Saoirse, Fiona Shaw. UK. 112mins. UK Distribution Lionsgate.
In 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked palaeontologist Mary Anning is entrusted with the care of Charlotte, a young woman who is recuperating from a personal tragedy. They are two women from utterly different worlds. Yet despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, they discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realisation that they are not alone. It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alter the course of both lives irrevocably.
Francis Lee said: ‘I am honored to be shortlisted for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award, especially given the incredibly high calibre of previous shortlisted and winning filmmakers. As a second time filmmaker, I am thrilled to be part of a shortlist this year with such exciting filmmaking talent’ In 2019 the IWC Bursary Award in Association with the BFI was won by writer/director, Rose Glass whose debut feature Saint Maud premiered at the LFF that year. The film, which has garnered much critical acclaim will be released in the UK on 9 October 2020 by Studiocanal.