We are excited to announce the shortlist for the Film & TV 2023 Funding Awards.
This year we were blown away by the number of high quality applications from around the world, which we took great time and care to measure against our judging criteria. We were on the hunt for director-led storytelling with unique access to engaging characters in unusual or inaccessible locations, and projects which share something new and unexpected about the world.
After much deliberation, we are pleased to announce the 14 projects that have made it onto our 2023 shortlist below (in alphabetical order).
The shortlist will now be reviewed by our panel of esteemed judges, which includes the likes of Keisha Knight (IDA), Sam Soko (LBx Africa) and Olivier Tournaud (Cinephil). Once the judges have made their careful selection, we will announce the five finalists who will pitch at Sheffield DocFest 2023 for the chance to win our top £100,000 award, as well as a runner-up contribution of £20,000.
We would like to express our gratitude to all of our applicants. We were thrilled with the quality of applications which continues to rise year on year. Thank you and good luck to you all.
9-Month Contract | Ketevan Vashagashvili | Georgia
Raising a kid as a homeless single mother in Tbilisi is hard. Jana decides that the solution is to become a surrogate mother for foreign families. This will provide her daughter with a secure life she’s never had, or will it?
Arctic Blue | Ismaele Tortella | Norway
Wildlife photographer, Ismaele, whose stutter has always silenced him, goes astray in the Arctic and, for the first time, points the camera towards himself. Searching for inspiration in people and animals’ adaptive strategies to change and challenge, he embarks on a self-discovering journey into the darkness of the polar winter. Finally he puts together the pieces of his identity.
Border Town | Jessi Gutch | UK
A characterful dive into the contrasting lives of people who live on the frontline of Britain’s immigration war in the once-sleepy seaside town of Folkstone. There are laugh out loud moments, but also serious alarm bells, as the clash between political ideology and cultural practice intensifies. Although set in Britain, the Director’s eye captures a universal view of life on the borders.
Camels Of The Sea | Vikram Singh | India
Adam Abdrehman and his family are among the last people to herd a rare breed of sea-going camels in Western India. As unchecked industrial expansion chokes the coast and cuts off access to the mangroves on which the camels depend, Adam must decide whether to fight against the tide – or give up the camels and his nomadic life.
Colors of the Wind | Lee Yeo-Jin | South Korea
Yeo-Jin, the films’ Director, regards her grandfather as a man whose dream was seized by a catastrophic industrial accident 30 years ago, which left him with dementia and hearing loss. However, she is closing the gap between them through filming his experiments. Gradually she realises that he is on a quest to create a beautiful home for them both out of other people’s throwaways. Their delightful journey is illustrated through the use of stop frame animation.
Cordon | Anton Mezulić | Croatia
Two janitors, one Croatian and one Serbian, tend to opposite ends of the same football pitch in a tiny town divided into two national teams. They are trying their best to overcome divisions created by a war which supposedly ended over 25 years ago. It is a metaphor for the political situation in a once war torn city on the brink of existence, played out with insight and dark humour.
Fragments of Us | Grisha Muzurov | Turkey/Russia
Here is a thought-provoking and deeply personal exploration capturing the essence of what it means to be caught between two worlds. Through its rich and imaginative use of visual storytelling, this film provides a window into the lives of a young couple who have fled Russia, only to find themselves in another country undergoing seismic changes.
Ghost Boat | Tanim Yousuf & Kauser Haider | Bangladesh
A rare gem from a country usually squeezed out of consciousness by its shoutier next door neighbour. A moving story about one mother’s determination to find out what happened to her trafficked son. It’s a tale as old as the hills; young men are scammed into boarding boats they think will whisk them to a new life in Malaysia, never to return. But new investigative online techniques appear to have discovered one such victim, and the race is on to bring him home.
I Want to Kill My Grandfather | Lilyana Torres & Carlos Morales | Mexico
The director’s approach using a detective and a film crew to uncover her family’s past is witty and compelling. But, beneath the conceit of her mission, she is deadly serious about uncovering Mexico’s criminal underworld and the effect it has on families. Here is a film that works on many levels and makes a difficult subject accessible.
Let’s Play Soldiers | Mariam Al-Dhubhani | Yemen
Nasser, a former child soldier from Yemen, is doing everything he can to prevent his two younger brothers following in his footsteps. He struggles to find a way to support his family and contend with his older brother’s trauma. This deeply humane film provides unique access to a country that is rarely seen beyond the headlines.
Lonko | Jota Loyola | Chile
After the death of a renowned Lonko, or Mapuche leader, his three children must decide who will continue to lead their community. Whoever wins this ‘succession story’ must face up to the encroaching problems of Catholicism, a troubled relationship with the Chilean State, as well as the repossession of their stolen lands and the palpable legacy of their father.
The Silence of the Ants | Francisco Montoro | Spain/Ukraine
A highly original take on an adoption of a Ukrainian child by a Spanish couple followed for nearly a decade of filming. The story comes to a crux as the child, now 15, is deciding whether to return to her war-torn country and join her older sister, or be adopted in Spain. This story stood out for its universal themes and the Director’s flair as a filmmaker.
Untying the Knot | Chona Mangalindan | Philippines
Aside from the Vatican, the Philippines is the only country in the world where divorce is illegal. Three women, whose lives have been upended by this rule, fight back. For the first time in generations, there is a chance they might win. Meanwhile, facing the upcoming release of her violent husband from prison, one of the women is weighing up whether to pay $1k for a hitman or $5k for fake annulment papers.
Women of My Life | Zahraa Ghandour | Iraq
When Zahraa was nine years old, she witnessed her best friend Noor being dragged away by her family, never to be seen again. This powerful and compelling investigation into the ‘disappeared’ women and children of Iraq does not flinch from discussing the complicity of other women within the system. The Iraqi Director says that “it is time to be freed of the frames that the media has always tried to squeeze us in”.