The BFI London Film Festival will present nine new feature films and documentaries by UK-based filmmakers at its third annual Works-in-Progress showcase. Scroll down for the lineup.
This year, the showcase, which forms part of the festival’s industry program, will be an in-person event screening extracts from each project introduced by their producer to an invited audience of international buyers and festival programmers.
The nine projects are either in production, post-production, or near completion. Clips from each project will also be available online from 8-9 October via a secure platform to a wider pool of invited international industry professionals. The in-person showcase will take place on Saturday 8 October as part of the Festival’s UK Talent Days.
Two projects from last year’s in-progress lineup are set to screen during this year’s LFF. Pretty Red Dress, written and directed by Dionne Edwards, and Medusa Deluxe, written and directed by Thomas Hardiman.
“As international industry engagement with the LFF grows year on year, we are developing new opportunities to support and promote the exciting talent at work in the UK and new work,” BFI London Film Festival Director, Tricia Tuttle, said.
“Connecting independent filmmakers and moving image creatives in the UK to commissioners, distributors, and financiers is vital for co-investment and distribution, as well as creative development and future collaboration. We are looking forward to presenting these diverse and vibrant new projects, and introducing their talented creators to our invited industry guests both in person and online.”
Works-in-progress lineup (with producer synopses):
- EMBERS, dir Christian Cooke; scr Christian Cooke, Dave Florez; prods April Kelley, Sara Huxley, Arthur Landon, Marnie Paxton-Harris; cast Ruth Bradley, Christian Cooke, David Wilmot, Clare Perkins, Samuel Anderson.
Embers is Christian Cooke’s feature debut, which he co-wrote with Dave Florez. It is produced by Mini Productions who also produced Cooke’s short film, Edith starring Peter Mullan and Michelle Fairley. As an actor, Cooke recently starred in the AMC series, That Dirty Black Bag alongside Dominic Cooper, Point Blank For Netflix and Love Rosie opposite Lily Collins. Dave Florez is writing A Mother’s Right for Reel One International, his TV crime series Accident has been optioned by LA Productions and a comedy-drama has been optioned by Hat Trick.
Amy, a sexual surrogate, is employed to help a high-security psychiatric patient overcome his intimacy issues in order to make parole. Incarcerated for 18 years, Dan must confront his dark past if he is to have any chance of freedom.
- GIRL, dir/scr Adura Onashile; prods Rosie Crerar and Ciara Barry; cast Déborah Lukumuena, Danny Sapani, Leshantey Bonsu, Lana Turner.
Adura Onashile is an award-winning Glasgow-based artist. She has just finished playing Medea in the National Theatre of Scotland and Edinburgh International Festival 2022’s acclaimed production. She has directed two productions, HeLa and Expensive S**t for The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, winning Fringe First and Edinburgh Guide Best Scottish Contribution to Drama awards as well as Total Theatre and Amnesty award nominations. Both shows toured nationally and internationally supported by the British Council. She has directed productions with The Unicorn Theatre, The Place, Contact Theatre, Fuel Theatre, and The National Theatre of Scotland. In 2020, she wrote and directed her screen debut, Expensive Shit, a BAFTA Scotland nominated short film produced by barry crerar which premiered at BFI London Film Festival 2020. She is a Screen Star of Tomorrow.
Her first feature Girl was developed through IFeatures in partnership with BBC Film and the BFI and also supported by the BFI Film Fund, BBC Film and Screen Scotland. Ciara Barry and Rosie Crerar have also been supported by BFI Vision Awards and feature in Rising Stars Scotland talent focus run by Screen Scotland and Screen International.
Girl is a love story between 24-year-old Grace and her 11-year old-daughter, Ama. It is a story of wonder and intimacy, of vulnerability and fear, and of not being able to let go even when you know it’s the right thing to do. A dual coming of age that centres Grace’s inability to leave the past behind or let herself become the woman she could be against Ama’s burgeoning puberty and curiosity of the world. As Grace is forced to confront the truth of her past, she has to come to terms with her trauma and its effects on Ama. And in the ultimate sacrifice, she understands that she has to let Ama go, in order to give them both a chance to really start living.
- HOARD; dir/scr Luna Carmoon; prods Loran Dunn, Helen Simmons, Andy Starke; cast Hayley Squires, Joseph Quinn, Saura Lightfoot Leon.
Luna Carmoon is a writer-director whose work is subversive and darkly funny at times, drawing on her own memories and her family’s. Her worlds are rooted in working-class culture with odes to magical realism, womanhood, and the mythology of memory. Her first and second short films, Nosebleed and Shagbands premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2018 and 2020 respectively. Carmoon is also one of six filmmakers selected as part of Creative England’s ShortFLIX initiative, championing underrepresented talent in the UK in partnership with NYT and Sky Arts. Carmoon is currently developing her second film with the BFI which has supported Hoard alongside BBC Film, which also supported development. Loran Dunn and Helen Simmons are both BFI Vision Award-supported producers.
Hoard is a tale of mother and daughter; it follows Maria first as a child in their loving routines; their nidus of joy full of catalogues of love. Both like magpies you see. Then as an 18-year-old navigating the past as it pays a visit; when a box of mother returns and a man called Michael comes to stay. The shimmering memories that she once suppressed begin to haunt her; as grief never really heals does it? It simply disguises itself in things.
- KINDLING; dir/scr Connor O’Hara; prods Jamie Gamache; Mark Foligno; cast George Somner, Conrad Khan, Wilson Mbomio, Mia McKenna-Bruce, Tara Fitzgerald.
Kindling was developed off the back of O’Hara’s award-winning short film Infinite starring George MacKay and Rose Williams. After two of his close friends died, O’Hara was drawn into showing masculinity in a different light and finding the positives in how we process grief. Through his work, he seeks to help people get through difficult times through hope and optimism. Telling life-affirming stories that remind people that there is always light in dark times. His stories are often told through a poetic and thought-provoking lens, eliciting strong emotional responses from audiences.
Kindling follows a group of young men who return to their hometown in order to turn their friend Sid’s final summer into a celebration of life, love and friendship. Sid is worried he’s going to be forgotten. With his obsession for astronomy and the atmosphere, he comes up with a plan to bring everyone together and make this summer unforgettable. He gives each boy a category – love, home, friends, family and location – and asks them to find an item that connects them all with the word they’ve been given. That week they’ll build a fire to burn the items they collect, a ritual that Sid believes will make him last forever. Without realising it, it might not be the ritual that will make Sid last forever, but the way in which he has deeply affected those around him in his time alive.
- ROBIN (documentary); dir/prod Orban Wallace; Co-prod Charlie Whitehead; Exec prods Kat Mansoor, Orlando Von Eisendel.
Wallace’s debut feature documentary Another News Story, which turned the cameras on the journalists reporting the 2015 refugee crisis, was heralded for its fresh and bold approach. It premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, screened at more than 30 international film festivals, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Grierson award for best international feature. Wallace’s recent short documentary Eve, about a 9-year-old girl living in one of the oldest off-grid communities in the UK was supported by the BFI Doc Society Fund and released on The Guardian. Wallace is also currently developing a new doc with exec producer Charlie Philips, The Trespasser, The Lord & The Gypsy.
Robin encapsulates a film inside the film. A young woman, Charlie, decides to reimagine/bring to light the film her sister Robin was making before dying in 2010 of an overdose at the age of 27. Robin’s film was a portrait of the musician Peter Doherty at the height of his fame, a project she was offered by her writer and filmmaker father Peter Whitehead who had made a film with the Rolling Stones. Ten years after Robin’s death Charlie discovers Robin’s rushes. This multi-layered family chronicle of love and loss is a story of a father and daughter; bound by their passion for authentically capturing the world; revealing the dangers of documentary filmmaking.
- SANDCASTLES (documentary); dir Inma De Reyes; prods Aimara Reques, Beth Earl, Ronny Merdinger; cast Borja Miranda, Erik Miranda, Matias Miranda, Raquel Miranda.
Inma de Reyes is a Spanish film director based in Edinburgh. Her debut documentary short, To Be A Torero, premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2018. Her work has included Vivir Bailando, a short film for The Scottish Documentary Institute’s Bridging The Gap that premiered at the 2019 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Eighty Serbian Dinars for FilmArt and Isabel’s Independence, a 30-minute documentary about a Spanish immigrant in Edinburgh, aired in August 2022 by BBC Scotland. SANDCASTLES is Inma’s first feature film, produced by Aconite Productions as a co-production with Rustic Canyon and in association with Screen Scotland, Chicken & Egg Pictures and Women Make Movies.
Filmed over the course of five years, Sandcastles follows Borja, a young boy who grows up oppressed by the weight of his family’s hopes and the lack of options for his own future. Like most kids in his provincial Spanish town of Castellon, Borja doesn’t see a future outside of the town’s parameters beyond orange fields, farming, fishing and bullfighting.
Borja and his younger brother are being raised by their mother who struggles to make ends meet and patriarch grandfather Matias who pins his own unfulfilled dreams of becoming a professional bullfighter onto his grandchild, with the hopes that it will get the family out of poverty. But the reality of bullfighting today is not as grandfather remembers it, yet the family believes Borja will be the one who will make it against all odds.
- SCALA CLUB CINEMA (documentary); dirs Jane Giles and Ali Catterall; prods Andy Starke, Alan Marke, Jim Reid; The cast includes John Waters, Adam Buxton, Stewart Lee, James O’Brien, Isaac Julien, Caroline Catz, Mary Harron, Beeban Kidron, Princess Julia plus many more.
Former Scala programmer Jane Giles has worked extensively in cinema exhibition and film distribution. A writer for Sight and Sound, Time Out, The Guardian, she has authored several film books, including the award-winning Scala Cinema 1978-1993 on which this documentary is based. Ali Catterall has been a film journalist, critic and interviewer for Time Out, Total Film and GQ, among others. He’s written for The Guardian every week since 1997 and is co-author of Your Face Here: British Cult Movies Since the Sixties, crediting the Scala for his unofficial film education. This is their film debut. Scala Cinema Club is produced by Fifty Foot Woman with Channel X and Anti-Worlds, supported by the BFI Doc Society Fund and crowd funded by more than 300 Scala enthusiasts.
This feature-length big screen documentary tells the riotous inside story of the infamous sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll repertory cinema which inspired a generation during Britain’s turbulent Thatcher years. It features new interviews with diverse audience members who went on to become filmmakers, musicians, writers, actors, activists and artists, combined with previously unseen archive material, iconic movie clips, animation and graphics, plus a thrilling new score by the celebrated musician Barry Adamson.
With its universal themes of youthful discovery and the underdog versus the establishment, this is no nostalgia trip but rather a film of universal relevance with clear parallels between then and now. Above all, it’s a hilarious and joyous celebration of cinema-going.
- THE SECRET ARMY – the film you were never supposed to see (documentary); dir John O’Kane; prods John O’Kane, Darragh Macintyre.
John O’Kane is a veteran journalist, producer and director from Northern Ireland. His background in current affairs has led to collaborations with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the ground-breaking Facing the Truth, where gunmen from the Northern Ireland conflict met their victims face-to-face for the first time. His second series The Tutu Talks, explored major issues and changes affecting the future of the African continent.
The Secret Army: The Film You Were Never Supposed To See (w/t) has been commissioned by BBC Storyville and BBC Northern Ireland. A film within a film, O’Kane’s debut feature documentary follows Northern Ireland journalist Darragh MacIntyre as he unravels the story behind an extraordinary 1972 American documentary, The Secret Army, made with and about the IRA during the bloodiest year of the entire Northern Ireland conflict.
With access to some of the IRA’s most senior leaders who talk openly to camera about their “war against the British”, they are seen making bombs, planting them and then detonating them on the streets of Northern Ireland. The film was never shown and disappeared for almost 50 years, until Darragh found it in a storeroom in New York. Now, he wants to find out why the IRA gave the American producers such astonishing access and who the filmmakers really were.
The incredible story he uncovers leads to meetings with former IRA members, some of the film team who followed them, and raises questions about secret links between the filmmakers and British Intelligence, the CIA and Mossad.
- SILENT ROAR; dir/scr Johnny Barrington; prod Christopher Young; cast Louis McCartney, Ella LIly Hyland, Mark Lockyer.
Writer-director Johnny Barrington grew up on the Isle of Skye and worked as a ship’s photographer in the Pacific and Caribbean before studying at the Glasgow School of Art. A Screen Star of Tomorrow, two of Barrington’s short films, Trout and Tumult, premiered at Sundance Film Festival; Tumult was BAFTA nominated in 2013. Silent Roar has been supported by the BFI Film Fund, BBC Film and Screen Scotland. It was developed with BBC Film.
Dondo is a young surfer. His fisherman dad Willy disappeared a year ago. No sign of his boat, nor his body. Dondo’s mother and the community know Willy has not survived a year in the Atlantic. But Dondo thinks differently.
Dondo finds a friend in local minister Paddy. Paddy sees a new recruit for his church. Sas is a young fireraiser, sailing through exams but looking for more meaning in life. She questions Dondo’s new found religion, puzzled why he would go to church without parental pressure. Sas herself has religious parents who remind her daily to run away. Sas and Dondo battle with each other through school exams to the end of the summer term. They build a strong bond through passionate disagreement, cemented on a trip to sea – for Dondo to find Willy, for Sas to escape. Their mission and its aftermath will change their lives forever.