Funding Award Winners Announced at Sheffield DocFest 2023

At the 30th edition of Sheffield DocFest, the winners of The Whickers’ Film & TV Funding Award 2023 were announced. The top prize of £100,000 went to Zahraa Ghandour from Iraq for Women of My Life, whilst Lilyana Torres & Carlos Morales took home the development award of £20,000 for I Want To Kill My Grandfather.

This year also saw a triumphant return for audio at Sheffield DocFest, with The Whickers collaborating on a brand new Podcast Pitch. The first prize of £5,000 went to Time, Paper, Bone by Catherine Boulle and Bongani Kona from South Africa (also winners of The Whickers’ RAFA award 2021), whilst Londoner Taqwa Sadiq was awarded £2,000 for Breathing Lyrically. The judges also gave a special mention to Max Harthill from London for the pitch of his podcast Looking? We are delighted to have awarded more funding to documentary makers at this year’s festival than ever before.

The Film & TV Funding Award winners were selected by our judging panel from the five shortlisted finalists who each had the opportunity to present their projects at The Whickers Pitch on Sunday 18th June. Meanwhile, the audio documentary makers had the chance to convince a separate judging panel at The Podcast Pitch on Saturday 17th June. All of the winners were announced at The Crucible Theatre on Sunday evening at the Sheffield DocFest Awards Ceremony.



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”.

Jo Lapping, head of factual acquisitions at BBC and one of our judges, said of the winner: “The combination of Zahraa’s access and personal point of view will deliver a film giving profound insights into a world and a history that is seldom seen or told.”

Fellow judge Keisha Knight, of the International Documentary Association, added “Zahraa’s description of the role of Baghdad was very convincing, this layered view of Iraqi society is  something I’ve never seen before. The personal exploration of family trauma and the meta level of history and gender-based violence really come together powerfully”.



Blending documentary and fiction, the judges were won over by Lilyana’s pitch for a highly personal film exploring the impact of violence on her family and hometown. The approach of using a detective and a film crew to uncover Lilyana’s family 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.

Judge Sam Soko of LBx Africa announced the winners at the DocFest award ceremony. He said of I Want To Kill My Grandfather: “How Lilyana opened up about her healing process really swayed me. I want to see how she transforms and this story has all the ingredients for that. Lilyana is a really strong director who has a great potential ahead of her and a very clear plan for the story she wants to tell”.


We would also like to thank all the finalists in both pitches, and all of this years applicants, for their hard work and commitment to sharing their extraordinary stories with the world.


About the Film & TV Funding Award
The Film & TV Funding Award is awarded annually to an emerging filmmaker from anywhere in the world with the most promising pitch for a director-led documentary, which fulfils our core criteria. With a main award now worth £100,000 and a runner-up contribution of £20,000, The Whickers Film & TV Funding Award is one of the most significant documentary awards in the world.

Are you an emerging Director working on your first feature length documentary? It could be you winning £100,000 this time next year! Find out about our application process HERE.