The 2020 contenders are Cathy Brady, writer-director of debut feature Wildfire, Aleem Khan, writer-director of debut feature After Love, and Francis Lee, writer-director of sophomore feature Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.
At £50,000 ($65k), and now in its fifth year, the prize is one of the most significant bursaries of its kind in the UK, expressly designed to support the future careers of promising new UK film talent.
Brit multi-hyphenate Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) will join Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI and Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of luxury watch maker IWC Schaffhausen, to select the winner, which will be announced at the BFI London Film Festival 2020 Virtual LFF Audience Awards, on Sunday 18 October – the closing night of the festival.
Chaired by Tricia Tuttle, Artistic Director of the BFI London Film Festival, a panel of industry figures – Eva Yates, Commissioning Executive at BBC Films, Lauren Dark, Commissioning Executive at Film4, Farhana Bhula, Development & Production Executive of the BFI Film Fund, and Akua Gyamfi, journalist and founder of The British Blacklist – selected the shortlist of filmmakers. To be eligible for the Bursary Award a writer, director or writer/director must be UK-based and have their first or second film in Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival.
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.”
Previous recipients of the prize include writer-directors Rose Glass (Saint Maud) in 2019, Richard Billlingham (Ray & Liz) in 2018 and Daniel Kokotajlo (Apostasy) in 2017. Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling) was awarded the first bursary in 2016.