Animated feature Kensuke’s Kingdom, based on the Michael Morpurgo novel, Terence Davies’ Siegfried Sassoon biopic Benediction and the Studiocanal-released Saint Maud were among the films to receive the highest level of support from the British Film Institute’s production and distribution funds this year.
It was a year like no other, and the pandemic impact is reflected in the fact that several of the productions were given additional awards to support them through virus-related disruption. Terence Davies’ Benediction, for example, received an initial £1.1M in production finance but a further £341,182 as the movie battled through delays. In total, the org handed out £1.24M to films interrupted by the pandemic.
Nine out of the top 10 films on the production list also received smaller amounts from the BFI’s Step-up initiative, which provides grants to encourage producers to increase representation on their sets and hire a more diverse production crew.
The BFI’s distribution awards look vastly different this year, due to the lack of titles released across the majority of the last 12 months and continued cinema closures. Indie hit Saint Maud, released in the UK by Studiocanal during a brief window in October when the country entered a lighter stage of lockdown, received the highest grant of £100,000 and grossed an impressive $1.1M.
The fund also handed out organizational awards, including to Altitude Film Distribution which received £495,000 to spend across five film releases, including Sarah Gavron’s Rocks and Ladj Ly’s Les Miserables, both of which were released in September when cinemas re-opened, grossing $370,426 and $154,915 respectively.
Due to the unconventional nature of 2020, the BFI oversaw several newly-created pots designed to specifically bolster the industry against the pandemic. The BFI FAN Covid-19 Resilience Fund gave out £1.1M to support indie cinemas in the UK during the ongoing closures, while the org also gave out £500,000 to industry freelancers during this period, and £470,000 to struggling sales companies.
Below are the BFI’s top 10 production and distribution awards, to individual projects, plus its organizational awards, in 2020.
Top 10 production awards:
Kensuke’s Kingdom Jigsaw Films Limited £1,600,000 – Production
Kensuke’s Kingdom Jigsaw Films Limited £20,000 – Step-up Initiative
Benediction UME 14 Limited £1,100,000 Production
Benediction UME 14 Limited £341,182 Production – COVID
Benediction UME 14 Limited £25,000 Step-up Initiative
Boxing Day Boxing Day Productions Limited £1,276,409 Production
Boxing Day Boxing Day Productions Limited £20,000 Step-up Initiative
True Things True Things Films Limited £990,000 Production
True Things True Things Films Limited £272,902 Production – COVID
True Things True Things Films Limited £20,000 Step-up Initiative
Pirates New Year Film Ltd £899,500 Production
Pirates New Year Film Ltd £360,000 Production – COVID
Pirates New Year Film Ltd £20,000 Step-up Initiative
The Fantastic Flitcrofts Maurice Media Limited £1,230,000 Production
The Fantastic Flitcrofts Maurice Media Limited £20,000 Step-up Initiative
Mothering Sunday Number 9 Films Sunday Limited £990,000 Production
Mothering Sunday Number 9 Films Sunday Limited £20,000 Step-up Initiative
Ballywalter BT22 Limited £840,860 Production
Ballywalter BT22 Limited £20,000 Step-up Initiative
Earwig Anti-Worlds Earwig Ltd £850,000 Production
Medusa Deluxe UME15 Limited £740,000 Production
Medusa Deluxe UME15 Limited £20,000 Step-up Initiative
Top 10 distribution awards:
Saint Maud Studiocanal Limited £100,000
Sound Of Metal Vertigo Releasing Ltd £60,000
One Man And His Shoes Dartmouth Films Limited £53,453
The Perfect Candidate Modern Films Entertainment Ltd. £50,000
And Then We Danced Peccadillo Pictures Limited £49,272
MLK/FBI Dogwoof Ltd £40,000
White Riot Modern Films Entertainment Ltd. £31,000
Herself Picturehouse Entertainment Limited £30,000
Perfect 10 606 Distribution Ltd £15,450
Eternal Beauty Bulldog Film Distribution Limited £13,500
Top 10 organizational awards:
National strategic activities to deliver support and capacity building to the UK’s independent cinema exhibition sector Independent Cinema Office – £577,364
Altitude Film Distribution – £495,000
Sheffield Doc/Fest 2020 International Film Festival Sheffield – £210,000
Reimagining Film Exhibition, The Watershed Arts Trust Limited – £195,000
HOME, Greater Manchester Arts Centre Ltd – £185,000
Birds Eye View / Reclaim The Frame, Birds Eye View – £165,000
Cinema For All – Building film communities across the UK, The British Federation of Film Societies – £159,442
Broadway Organisational Award 2020, Nottingham Media Centre Limited – £150,000
Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre, Leicester Arts Centre Ltd – £150,000
Showroom Cinema, The Sheffield Media and Exhibition Centre Limited – £150,000
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