Funding Award Winners Announced at Sheffield DocFest 2024

This year, at the 31st edition of Sheffield DocFest, The Whickers hosted both the Film & TV pitching event and the second ever Podcast Pitch Award, in partnership with DocFest. 

We are delighted to announce that the top prize of £100,000 for Film & TV went to Vikram Singh from India, for his stunning project Camels of The Sea, whilst Chouwa Liang, from China, took home the development award of £20,000 for her project Replica. The Podcast Award of £5,000 was scooped by Christina Hardinge for her audio project Re-writing the Narrative and the development podcast award went to Matthew Durai for Degenerate. 

The Film & TV Funding Award winners were selected by our expert judging panel from the five shortlisted finalists who each pitched their projects at The Whickers Pitch on Sunday 16th June.   Their fellow Podcast finalists pitched to a separate judging panel on Saturday 15th June at the The Podcast Pitch and all of the winners were announced at The Crucible Theatre on Sunday evening at the annual Sheffield DocFest Awards ceremony.


Adam Abdrehman’s family are amongst the last in the world to herd a special breed of swimming camels called the Kharai. In the face of rampant and often illegal industrialisation on India’s western coast, Adam struggles to keep his family, his camels and his sense of self together.

Vikram told us  ‘It feels incredible to have participated in this year’s pitch. There’s so much I learnt from the other finalists, and also from our mentors at the Whickers. Pitching at the Crucible was surreal. Winning the award is monumental on two levels. The funding will carry us through a major chunk of our production. But more importantly, we’ll have the continued support and guidance of the incredible team at the Whickers, and I am very excited about working with them to do this story justice.’

Fozia Khan, Head of Unscripted at Amazon Studios and one of our judges said of the winner, “this project illuminates a beautiful world that is disappearing’.



Realising she  could never meet her ex-boyfriend’s lofty expectations for long legs, perfect cooking skills, and endless patience, Chouwa Liang turned to seek a more reliable relationship with her AI boyfriend. Millions of women in China, just like her, are taking risks by entrusting their deepest secrets to AI lovers due to a profound yearning for unconditional love – ‘Replica’ is their story.

The judges, including an AI judge who was drafted in especially for this announcement (!) all agreed that this film offers a groundbreaking exploration of AI relationships in China through the lives of three women. It delves into the profound impact of AI companionship, highlighting a significant cultural shift and raising important questions about the future of human relationships in the digital age. The authenticity and depth of the narrative are elevated by the director’s personal connection to the subject.

Chouwa said “We’re really honored to win this award among so many amazing projects. Huge thanks to the Whickers team, the panel, and everyone in the audience. Your smiles and applause have given us the push to keep going. Thanks for believing in our potential and joining us on this beautiful journey”

£5,000 Podcast Pitch Award. Re-Writing The Narrative (Christina Hardinge)

What if you could rewrite the story of your own life? And get to know yourself in an entirely new way? Rewriting the narrative is a podcast that does exactly that.

Christina said “I am over the moon and immensely grateful to have won The Whickers Podcast Pitch. Rewriting the Narrative is a project that has already been 3 years in the making, so I can’t wait to be sharing it with the world as a podcast in 2025!”

The judges said “This project could only be done in audio. The production process is highly original and is hugely well thought through. The sound design in the audio is delicate and considered and the concept generates incredible audio. Christina Hardinge asks us to question the documentary process and engages her subjects to participate rather than contribute, bringing benefit to participants and the listener in this unique project”.

£2,000 Podcast Development Award. Degenerate (Matthew Durai)

What happens when one has a genetic predisposition to forget? This series tells the multifaceted story of Alzheimer’s disease told through the lens of someone running towards a solution- because he has to.

Matthew told us “Huge thanks to the Whickers team and everyone involved with Sheffield Docs for this recognition and for establishing this much-needed platform for audio storytellers”

The judges commented that “This project has massive ambition and comes from a really distinctive voice with a unique reason to make this series. His personal experience and look at issues head on with humour is a refreshing take. It has a global take on an issue that needs more attention. This ambitious podcast will provide a valuable resource to many living with the challenges that Alzheimer’s brings both to those with dementia and the people around them. 

Photo credit:  Ang Do, Laura Page


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 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.


About the Podcast Pitch Award

The Podcast Pitch is a joint initiative with Sheffield DocFest open to anyone (not just first timers) to pitch their project to a panel of expert judges.  The Whickers offers a winning prize of £5,000 production award and a development award of £2,000 to a runner up as well as access to top industry professionals and audio commissioners for all of our finalists.

Are you a Podcast maker and interested in applying next year?  Find out about our application process HERE.