Exciting news coming out of the BFI this Monday, as it is revealed that Michaela Coel (I Will Destroy You) will be the head of the judging panel for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award.

The award – a prize worth £50,000 that now enters its fifth year – is designed to bolster the progress of upcoming British filmmaking talent, with the winner being announced during the BFI London Film Festival in October – providing enough funding to ensure they can pursue their artistic vision without taking jobs solely for money.

The three shortlisted filmmakers are Cathy Brady (Wildfire), Aleem Khan (After Love) and Francis Lee (Ammonite), all of whom will screen their work at LFF.

Cathy Brady rose to notoriety with her short films Small Change and Morning, before moving to TV with directing credits for Glue and Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. Wildfire, which had its debut at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, is an Irish-set film focusing on two sisters as their bond changes and twists as secrets from their past emerge. Hotly-tipped for success, Wildfire will be screened at BFI London Film Festival – and you can expect a review from us once we’ve seen it.

Cathy Brady

The second nominated director, Aleem Khan, is also a first-time feature director, with his film After Love making its worldwide premiere at London Film Festival. His sophomore short film, Three Brothers, propelled him to worldwide acclaim after its appearance at festivals worldwide, and Khan’s unique Englush-Pakistani helps bring an individualistic spirit to his work. After Love follows a British Muslim convert who, following her husband’s death, undergoes deep self-reflection and learn about a hidden past she never knew she had.

Aleem Khan

The final nominated filmmaker is Francis Lee, who has gone into the pre-festival circuit with plenty of buzz for his sophomore film Ammonite, having already gained international distribution for 2021 and winning the best director award at Sundance 2017 for his debut film God’s Own Country. Ammonite stars Kate Winslet and Saiorse Ronan as two women in 1840s England who break societal boundaries by falling for each other.

Photo by Agatha A. Nitecka

The panel – which comprises of Coel, BFI LFF Artistic Director Tricia Tuttle and others, said:

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 winner of the 2020 IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award will be announced on Sunday 18th October, at the end of the BFI London Film Festival.