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BFI Film Fund selects three documentaries at Doc/Fest

BFI logo The BFI Film Fund has announced it will support three feature documentaries that pitched at a special session held at documentary festival Sheffield Doc/Fest.

The projects were shortlisted by a team of senior executives from the BFI and Sheffield Doc/Fest, and selected to present to a panel including representatives from the Film Fund and Texas-based SXSW Film. In line with the panel’s recommendations the BFI Film Fund has committed to supporting three films.

The three projects that can expect backing are:

Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life, co-produced with James Wilson and Katie Holly, depicts the colourful character’s life “beyond the iconic mask” to create a cinematic journey into her private and public world. The documentary is to mix intimate personal footage with unique staged musical sequences.

Then there is Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s The Lovers and the Despot, produced by Natasha Dack. The documentary details the bizarre love story of a celebrity director and actress kidnapped by movie-mad dictator Kim Jong-il and forced to make films in the communist state.

Finally Iain Cunningham’s Irene’s Ghost, produced by Rebecca Mark-Lawson, is a part animated feature documentary that follows the moving journey of the filmmaker to build a picture of the mother he never knew.

The BFI has committed to further engagement on George Amponsah’s hybrid observational documentary, Down By Law, which follows several years in the lives of two of the closest friends of Mark Duggan, the man whose death at the hands of armed policed sparked the UK riots of 2011; and Steve Loveridge’s Untitled M.I.A. Project, a chronicle of musician M.I.A. through personal archive footage filmed by the controversial artist over 20 years.

Lizzie Francke, BFI Film Fund Senior Executive, said: “We were blown away by the quality of all the projects selected to pitch at the Sheffield Doc/Fest session. The pitch session provides a valuable opportunity to pinpoint those documentary projects with the potential to capture the imagination of cinema audiences, and the creative vision of filmmakers to bring characters to the big screen in thought-provoking and exciting ways. Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life, The Lovers and the Despot and Irene’s Ghost are entertaining, exciting and emotive stories that will enthral audiences in the UK and abroad. We’re also keen to help the filmmakers of Down By Law and Untitled M.I.A. Project in developing their projects further, and we congratulate all those selected to pitch in what was an exceptionally strong short list.”


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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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