Female Directors Lead The Charge As iFeatures Reveal Final 12 in Creative England’s Leading UK Film Development Programme
CREATIVE ENGLAND’S LEADING UK FILM DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, iFEATURES, SHOWCASES A DIVERSE RANGE OF CREATIVE VOICES AND ASPIRING UK TALENT WITH 12 NEW PROJECTS
The final 12 filmmaker teams with feature projects selected for the new iFeatures development lab programme have been announced today by Creative England, and supported by the BFI with National Lottery funding, BBC Films and Creative Skillset.
Championing outstanding emerging UK film talent in making their first feature, and embracing the ambition to foster diverse and highest quality debuts, 58% are projects led by female directors, 40% are all-female teams, and 25% feature BAME talent.
Original projects, a powerful sense of place and distinctive filmmaker voices are paramount to the final selection. These projects feature rich regional and national identity, with bold voices and story settings from all over the UK, including Belfast, Glasgow, Ilkely (Yorkshire), East London, Port Talbot (Wales), Canvey Island (Essex), Newcastle, Devon and the Lake District. The projects span a wide range of stories, worlds and genres, from supernatural, folk horror, comedy and thriller, to robust and heart-warming dramas.
This year’s dynamic projects include:
• HERE BEFORE (Stacey Gregg, Writer/Director; Sophie Vickers, Producer;)
• A VOICE AND ITS ECHO (Simon Cartwright, Writer/Director; Emilie Jouffroy, Producer; Kamilla Hodol, Producer)
• I FEEL BLOOD (Dean Puckett, Writer/Director; Rebecca Wolff, Producer)
• AVI (Jonathan Schey, Writer/Director; Rachelle Constant, Producer)
• NAN (Charlotte Regan, Writer/Director; Eoin O’Faolain, Producer)
• MAN ACCIDENTALLY KILLS (Sean Dunn, Writer/Director; Alex Polunin, Producer)
• A DYING ANIMAL (Hardey Speight, Writer/Director)
• THE WHITE STORK (Meg Campbell, Director; Oliver Henderson, Writer; Marie-Elena Dyche, Producer)
• PEOPLE ARE STRANGE (Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, Writer/Director)
• BLUE JEAN (Georgia Oakley, Writer/Director; Helene Sifre, Producer)
• GIRL (Chika Anadu, Director; Adura Onashile, Writer; Rosie Crerar; Producer; and Ciara Barry, Producer)
• ACROSS THE WATER (Andrea Harkin, Director; Suzanne Cowie, Writer)
The new iFeatures Lab programme strands will cover storytelling, directing and producing. The Lab workshops will be dedicated to craft, exploration and experimentation, alongside intensive project development, production preparation, market readiness, mentoring and personal development.
For the first time, an iFeatures Podcast will be widely available to help further inspire and educate aspiring filmmakers, as it goes behind the scenes of each lab and documents the journey of the final 12 film projects. Following the end of the programme, the BFI and BBC Films have committed to supporting at least three films to production.
Continuing to develop quality British filmmaking remains iFeatures driving vision. Previous iFeatures productions showcase this with LADY MACBETH, APOSTASY and THE LEVELLING having enjoyed critical and commercial success, while launching exceptional new British talent into the public eye.
Paul Ashton, Head of Film, Creative England said "The task of choosing 12 projects from almost 800 applications (double the number from last year) was monumental. These talented filmmakers represent such distinct voices, and the resounding strength of female talent and teams in the running was particularly exciting to see. With such bold styles, powerful ideas and original stories spanning a range of genres, we can’t wait to crack on with the lab programme and help so many talented people realise so many great films."
Eva Yates, Commissioning Executive, BBC Films said “iFeatures has exceeded all our expectations this year. The volume of applications, yes! But even more so, the passion and cinematic instincts of the filmmakers, the timely ideas and the new perspectives. The labs ahead afford the opportunity to be curious, collaborative and rigorous with these ideas and instincts, and we are excited to see these films take shape and ready themselves for the world.”
Mary Burke, Senior Development and Production Executive for the BFI said “We are proud to be supporting this new UK-wide iteration of iFeatures that boasts a bolder focus on development for a striking spectrum of some of the most inspiring new filmmaking voices. This year’s class promises to reinvigorate debut filmmaking with an intoxicating mix of genre and drama as they set off into the development lab to carve their scripts from virgin marble.”
Gareth Ellis-Unwin, Head of Film, Creative Skillset said “We are incredibly proud to be giving aspiring filmmakers the chance to make their first feature and playing our part in making sure new voices can develop the skills to tell their stories. It’s really encouraging to know there is more BAME talent, more women and people rooted in many different parts of the country coming through the iFeatures programme. I genuinely can’t wait to see what they deliver.”
FINAL 12 – PROJECT DETAILS
Sophie Vickers, Producer; Stacey Gregg, Writer/Director
A taut and sophisticated psychological thriller set in Northern Ireland.
A VOICE AND ITS ECHO
Simon Cartwright, Writer/Director; Emilie Jouffroy, Producer; Kamilla Hodol, Producer
A woman rediscovers her love of music when she returns home to the Yorkshire Moors and uncovers what might be the entrance to another world.
I FEEL BLOOD
Dean Puckett, Writer/Director: Rebecca Wolff, Producer
As madness grips an isolated community on Dartmoor, a hate preacher's daughter must save her secret lover from the clutches of the baying mob.
Jonathan Schey, Writer/Director; Rachelle Constant, Producer
An eccentric Hasidic Jewish bachelor, struggling to be matched for marriage, gets tempted by life in the outside world.
Charlotte Regan, Writer/Director; Eoin O’Faolain, Producer
A young hood desperately has to clear his debts by selling drugs, with only his aged and very grumpy nan to help.
MAN ACCIDENTALLY KILLS
Sean Dunn, Writer/Director: Alex Polunin, Producer
In central belt Scotland, an anxious father stages a violent home invasion to frighten a visiting relative into cutting their stay short.
A DYING ANIMAL
Hardey Speight, Writer/Director
Two brothers join the army to escape banal and poverty-stricken lives, but as one brother excels as a cadet, the other self-destructs, threatening both their chances of redemption.
THE WHITE STORK
Meg Campbell, Director; Marie-Elena Dyche, Producer; Oliver Henderson, Writer
A disillusioned mother forms an unlikely relationship with her daughter’s classmate, and becomes convinced that the pair were switched at birth.
PEOPLE ARE STRANGE
Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, Writer/Director
The true story of how a skinhead became an au pair, livingwith a Pakistani family for a year.
Georgia Oakley, Writer/Director; Helene Sifre, Producer
In 1988, a closeted teacher is pushed to the brink when a new student threatens to expose her sexuality.
Chika Anadu, Director; Adura Onashile, Writer; Producers; Rosie Crerar and Ciara Barry
The curious relationship between a girl and her mother is threatened by the hostile community around them.
ACROSS THE WATER
Andrea Harkin, Director; Suzanne Cowie, Writer
A terrified young woman must deal with her unwanted pregnancy, in a country where having an abortion can mean life in prison.
iFeatures began in Bristol in October 2009 when filmmaking teams across the UK were asked to submit their ideas for a feature film set in the city. Just over a year later, the first three films, In the Dark Half, Flying Blind and 8 Minutes Idle were greenlit and went on to theatrical release. iFeatures went on to beome a national scheme focusing on stories from across the English regions, the second round receiving over 350 submission before going on to produce The Goob, Norfolk and Spaceship.
Since then it has established a reputation for identifying the best new British filmmaking talent. The third round of iFeatures developed The Levelling, Lady Macbeth and Apostasy, all of which debuted at international film festivals and have won critical acclaim for telling bold, new stories, and the talent behind them has become established as some of the most exciting in British cinema. Films currently in development from the forth iteration of iFeatures includes psychological thriller Make Up, Brighton-based drama Perfect 10 and Retreat, a story told completely in British Sign Language.
About Creative England
Creative England invests in and supports creative ideas, talent and businesses in film, TV, games and digital media. We aim to grow the brightest, the best, and those with the most promise so that individuals and businesses can achieve their full creative and commercial potential. We help identify future opportunities to grow the economy and generate jobs.
Creative England films have made a big impact in a short time. Beyond the iFeatures programme, backing outstanding talent and successful productions through the National Lottery Production Fund, including Academy Award and BAFTA nominated 45 Years, BIFA winning and BAFTA nominated documentary Notes on Blindness, BIFA and Tribeca winning Adult Life Skills, and multi-award winning box office hit God’s Own Country. With European Regional Development Funding, Creative England has backed BIFA winning and BAFTA nominated The Girl With All the Gifts and BAFTA nominated Jawbone, via the West Midlands Production Fund. Upcoming films include thriller Calibre, which release later this year as a Netflix Original; comedy Old Boys nominated for the Michael Powell Award at this year’s Edinburgh Film festival; intimate documentary Irene’s Ghost; 17th century ‘western’ The Delivered; punk-politics documentary White Riot; the surreal John Lennon biopic John Lives; and the first British film to be co-written and directed by an autistic filmmaker, Dawn of the Dark Fox.
About the BFI
The BFI Film Fund supports world-class UK filmmaking from talent and film development, through to production and audience development across exhibition, distribution and international sales. With over £50 million of National Lottery funding to invest each year, the BFI is the UK's largest public investor in film.
Highly anticipated films backed by the BFI include Cold War which received its World Premiere In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival winning the Best Director prize for filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski; Chris Martin’s Under the Wire which receives its World Premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest; Wash Westmoreland’s Colette, Idris Elba’s Yardie which premiered at Sundance; Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir; Jim Hosking’s An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn which premiered at Sundance; Sean McAllister’s A Northern Soul which will open this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest; Jason Barker’s A Deal with the Universe which premiered at the BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Festival; Tinge Krishnan’s Been So Long; Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley and Daniel Kokotajlo’s Apostasy which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; Neil Biswas’s Darkness Visible; Gabrielle Brady’s Island of the Hungry Ghosts; Deborah Haywood’s Pin Cushion which opened the Critics’ Week at Venice; Saul Dibb’s Journey’s End; Steve McLean’s Postcards from London and Matthew Jones’ The Man from Mo’ Wax.
Films in prep, production and post include Sacha Polak’s Dirty God; Tom Harper’s Wild Rose; Annabel Jankel’s Tell it to the Bees; Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chaplin; the Chris Morris Untitled Project; Claire Denis’s High Life; Mike Leigh’s Peterloo; Chino Moya’s Undergods; Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s Normal People; Scott Graham’s Born to Run; Amma Asante’s Where Hands Touch; Sean McAllister’s A Northern Soul; Carol Morley’s Out of Blue; Craig Roberts’ Eternal Beauty; Tim Travers Hawkins’s XY Chelsea; William McGregor’s Gwen; Thomas Clay’s Fanny Lye Deliver’d; Peter Strickland’s In Fabric; Brian Welsh’s Beats; Ian Cunningham’s Irene’s Ghost; and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.
Recent releases include Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete (World Premiere, Venice Film Festival); Michael Pearce’s Beast; Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country (World Cinema Dramatic - Directing Award, Sundance 2017/Michael Powell Award, Edinburgh International Film Festival); Aardman Animations’ Early Man, directed by Nick Park; Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here (Best Screenplay and Best Actor, Cannes Film Festival 2017); Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not A Witch (BAFTA award /World Premiere, Cannes Directors’ Fortnight 2017); Clio Barnard’s Dark River; Paddy Considine’s Journeyman; Lucy Cohen’s Kingdom of Us (Grierson Best Documentary Award); Sky Neal and Kate McLarnon’s Even When I Fall; Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake (Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival, 2016/BAFTA award); Andrea Arnold’s American Honey (Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 2016); Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 2015); Andy Serkis’s Breathe; Peter Mackie Burns’s Daphne (Best Performance - British Feature Film, Edinburgh International Film Festival); and Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami.
The BFI is the lead organisation for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:
• Connecting audiences to the widest choice of UK and World cinema
• Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations
• Championing emerging and world class filmmakers in the UK - investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work
• Promoting UK film and talent to the world
• Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences
About BBC Films
BBC Films is at the forefront of independent filmmaking in the UK, developing and co-producing around twelve films a year. In 2015 BBC Films was awarded the BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. Rose Garnett is the Director of BBC Films.
Upcoming releases include Idris Elba's directorial debut Yardie, The Children Act featuring Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci, directed by Richard Eyre, Apostasy directed by first time filmmaker Daniel Kokotajlo, Stan & Ollie starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly and The Aftermath with Keira Knightley and Alexander Skarsgård.
Current and recent releases include The Happy Prince, written, directed by and starring Rupert Everett, On Chesil Beach starring Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, Lady Macbeth starring Florence Pugh and Cosmo Jarvis, and Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, an intimate and electrifying biography of the life of Grace Jones.
In post-production include Chiwetel Ejiofor’s untitled directorial debut based on the novel The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Peter Strickland’s ghost story In Fabric starring Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Out of Blue directed by Carol Morley and starring Patricia Clarkson, The White Crow directed by Ralph Fiennes, Denmark starring Rafe Spall, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir starring Tilda Swinton and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, His House by first-time UK writer/director Remi Weekes, Monsoon written and directed by Hong Khaou, starring Henry Golding, VS. starring Connor Swindells, Sacha Polak’s Dirty God, Scott Graham’s We Don’t Talk About Love and Judy directed by Rupert Goold and starring Renee Zellweger as the iconic Judy Garland.
About Creative Skillset
Creative Skillset works with the UK’s screen-based creative industries to develop skills and talent, from classroom to boardroom. We support high quality professional development across TV, film and related sectors – identifying skills needs, targeting skills investment, developing key skills and growing diverse talent networks. Through our industry partnerships Creative Skillset helps to improve productivity, creativity and employability across the UK’s screen-based creative media industries.