UK Film Council backs women filmmakers with lottery cash

Mumbai: Three women filmmakers who have won some of the film industry’s highest accolades are being backed by the UK Film Council with Lottery funding through its New Cinema Fund for their new feature films.

In line with its mandate to support both new and established talent, the fund is investing in Jane Campion’s Bright Star, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank and Morag McKinnon’s Rounding up Donkeys, all of which are set and being filmed in the UK.

A period romance drama set in London and the Home Counties, Bright Star is written and directed by auteur and Oscar-winning director Jane Campion. The film charts the ill-fated love affair between 19th Century English poet John Keats and his 18-year old muse Fanny Brawne.  Abbie Cornish will be playing Fanny Brawne, with British actor Ben Whishaw, who has recently completed Julian Jarrold’s Brideshead Revisited (also supported by the UK Film Council’s Development and Premiere Funds) starring as Keats. In addition to the British cast and crew, trainees supported by the Film Skills Fund will be gaining experience working on the film as part of the UK industry’s continued drive to advance the careers of British production crew.

Bright Star started production on 31 March with the backing of Pathé, Film Finance Corporation Australia, New South Wales Film and Television Office and BBC Films, with producers Caroline Hewitt and Jan Chapman putting together the UK /Australian co-production.  Pathé, which developed the script via its UK Film Council Development Fund slate deal, will distribute the film in the UK and France and sell the film internationally.

Fish Tank is writer/director Andrea Arnold’s second feature film, following her successful feature debut Red Road, winner of the Cannes Prix de Jury and the first project in the Advanced Party trilogy. The New Cinema Fund is pleased to continue supporting Andrea’s inspirational career as one of Britain’s most exciting female directors, a trajectory which includes her Lottery-funded Oscar winning short film Wasp. Currently in pre-production, Fish Tank is being produced by Kees Kasander with Paul Trijbits as the film’s Executive Producer. Funding partners include BBC Films and Limelight.  

Rounding Up Donkeys continues the New Cinema Fund’s commitment to helping filmmakers make the tricky jump from shorts to features. Rounding Up Donkeys is the second project in the Advance Party collaboration between Sigma Films and Zentropa, with actors Kate Dickie and Martin Compston, critically acclaimed for their performances in Red Road, returning to their roles in McKinnon’s film.

Described by McKinnon as "a bittersweet, tragicomic tale of making amends," the story involves a man faced with a life-threatening illness, who decides to make amends for his past mistakes and neglecting his family. Lol Crawley, winner of the Cinematography Award for Ballast at this year’s Sundance, is the film’s director of photography.  Anna Duffield and Gillian Berrie are producing the film for Sigma Films, with Sisse Graum Jørgensen as Executive Producer. Funding partners include Scottish Screen, Limelight, Zentropa, the Danish Film Institute, and the Glasgow Film Office. Filming wrapped at the end of March in Glasgow.

The UK Film Council’s Development Fund has also supported both Fish Tank and Rounding up Donkeys.

New Cinema Fund head Lenny Crooks says: "I am delighted that we are supporting exciting new films from three inspirational female filmmakers and I hope this encourages other women who want to progress their writing and directing careers.

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