New movies from Sally Potter, Sarah Gavron and Hong Khaou were among the BFI’s top ten Film Fund recipients in 2018. Potter’s untitled drama, starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock and Laura Linney, received the year’s biggest production grant of £1.1M. Scroll down for the top ten.
In 2017, the BFI — the UK’s lead organization for film — awarded seven movies £1M or more from its Film Fund. This year, Potter’s feature was the only one to cross the £1M mark. Other leading recipients in 2018 included Liam Neeson starrer Normal People and Keira Knightley pic Misbehaviour.
There is a healthy gender balance to the top ten awards this year with five male and five female directors in the mix. Two are feature debuts. Of course, different films will receive different amounts of money from different BFI funding strands, but this list gives a snapshot of what is coming up out of the UK and what types of movie the BFI is backing through its main production fund.
In 2017, satirist Chris Morris’ untitled follow-up to controversial 2010 comedy Four Lions was the recipient of the year’s biggest grant at £1.5M. Other leading recipients included Country Music, Out Of Blue, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind and Netflix acquisition Been So Long. Since launching the BFI Film Fund eight years ago, the organization’s single biggest production grant remains the £2M awarded to Aardman and Studiocanal’s animation Early Man in 2015.
The BFI’s Ten Biggest Production Awards of 2018:
£1.1M: Sally Potter untitled (FKA Molly)
The Party and Orlando writer-director Sally Potter’s starry pic charts a wild day in the life of a man on the edge, held together by the unconditional love of his daughter. HanWay Films handles international sales, Bleecker Street will distribute in the U.S. Potter’s long-time producing partner Christopher Sheppard is producing under his Adventure Pictures banner. Production is underway in Spain.
Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha Raw and Jessie Buckley star in this dramedy based on the true story of the 1970 Miss World contest and its disruption by the newly founded Women’s Liberation Movement. Production is underway. Philippa Lowthorpe (Three Girls) directs from an original script written by Rebecca Frayn (The Lady) with revisions by Gaby Chiappe (Their Finest). The film is being produced by Suzanne Mackie (The Crown) and by Sarah-Jane Wheale.
£900,000: Normal People
Bleecker Street recently snapped up U.S. distribution rights to Normal People, the Northern Ireland-shot drama starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville. Co-directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn and penned by Irish playwright Owen McCafferty, the film charts a couple dealing with the impact of a cancer diagnosis. Brian J. Falconer, David Holmes and Piers Tempest are producers.
£900,000: The Show
Graphic novel supremo Alan Moore’s (Watchmen) latest creation stars Tom Burke (War And Peace), Siobhan Hewlett (Show Pieces) and Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals). Mitch Jenkins (Show Pieces) is directing from Moore’s script. The Gothic fantasy follows Fletcher Dennis (Burke) who has been hired to track down a stolen artefact, an investigation that brings him into contact with the most unusual and dangerous elements in Moore and Jenkins’ hometown Northampton.
Lionsgate recently nabbed UK rights to this romantic drama, starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The pic is the feature debut of British playwright Jessica Swale, who won an Olivier Award for her play Nell Gwynn. The film centers on fiercely independent writer Alice (Arterton) who secludes herself in her clifftop study, debunking myths by using science.
£847,500: Girl Untitled
Suffragette director Sarah Gavron’s next feature – currently known as Girl Untitled – follows a multi-cultural group of teenagers from a fictional girls’ state school in London. Faye Ward produces alongside Ameenah Ayub Allen. The cast is largely made up of non-professional actors. Altitude handles sales. Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson have written the script.
Lilting director Hong Khaou returns with the story of Kit, a British Vietnamese man, who returns to Saigon for the first time in over 30 years after fleeing during the Vietnam-American War. Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding leads cast. Tracy O’Riordan (The Selfish Giant) produces.
£750,000: The Last Tree
Shola Amoo’s sophomore feature follows Femi, a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner London to live with his mum. Struggling with the unfamiliar culture and values of his new environment, the teenager has to figure out which path to adulthood he wants to take. Sam Adewunmi, Gbemisola Ikumelo and Tai Golding are among cast. Myf Hopkins and Lee Thomas produce. Great Point handles sales.
£737,000: Saint Maud
Morfydd Clark (Love And Friendship) and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty) lead cast in the Film4 and BFI-backed psychological-thriller. In writer-director Rose Glass’s feature debut, UK actress Clark plays Maud, a young religious private carer who becomes dangerously fixated with saving the soul of her glamorous patient Amanda (Ehle). Protagonist Pictures handles world sales.
£732,500: Eternal Beauty
Sally Hawkins stars in this dramedy about a woman battling the effects of schizophrenia. Actor-director Craig Roberts’ sophomore feature also stars David Thewlis, Billie Piper and Penelope Wilton. Adrian Bate produces. UK sales outfit Bankside Films has international rights. Endeavor Content and Bankside co-rep U.S.