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BFI London Film Festival Announces a Works-in-Progress Showcase Featuring Will Poulter and Naomi Ackie

BFI London Film Festival 2020’s press delegate Anoushka Chakrapani will be covering the festival for Roar News.  

The 64th BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, announced an industry showcase event for upcoming Film, Television and immersive projects by new talent. Seven new UK films and immersive works will be presented to an invited international audience of buyers and festival programmers.

The showcase will take place on 9 October online as part of 2020’s hybrid virtual and physical festival, reaching a wider audience internationally. In what is to become an annual event, the Festival will present a showcase of works made by UK filmmakers. 

BFI London Film Festival Director, Tricia Tuttle, said: “The LFF has always been a platform for supporting new and emerging filmmakers and an important showcase for discovering new talent for commissioners, distributors and financiers.  A works-in-progress event uses the moment of the Festival to offer more direct support for the incredible talent that we have in the UK and the producers and businesses backing them. We’re delighted that we have been able to move full steam ahead for this year’s Festival, with the added advantage of our virtual platform reaching even more buyers and programmers from across the globe.” 

The star-studded line-up includes films featuring Naomi Ackie and Will Poulter:

8 BAR (working title), dir Ewen Spencer, prods Aleksandra Bilic, Jamie Clark, David Upshal.  
Documentary by photographer and filmmaker Ewen Spencer. 

Ewen Spencer’s documentary approach has led to commissions from Channel4 and Vice, and brought a host of nominations for Street Sound and Style, his four-part series for i-d and Channel4 about British style and music culture.  

The story of Grime is an evolutionary one. The genre has alternately progressed and retreated. It has exposed internationally and withdrawn to its concrete council estate roots. It has fought against institutional racism, government-sponsored disinformation, and the scepticism of the masses. Grime is finally reaping the rewards of its urgency, innovation and socio-political relevance. The true story is riveting, nuanced and presided over by elusive characters. The film is told by the originators, mapping the blueprint of the UK’s most vital cultural revolution in decades. They have been there from the beginning. 

THE FEAST (GWLEDD), dir Lee-Haven Jones, scr/prod Roger Williams, starring Anne Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones. 

Lee-Haven Jones’s first film was nominated for Best Documentary at the Celtic Media Festival. He has since directed a number of drama projects, in English and Welsh, Wizards Vs Aliens and The Indian Doctor, for which he won the BAFTA Cymru Best Director award.   

A wealthy family gathers for a sumptuous dinner in the Welsh mountains with the intent to secure a business deal to mine in the surrounding countryside. When a mysterious young woman arrives to be their waitress for the evening, the family’s beliefs and values are challenged as her quiet yet disturbing presence begins to unravel their lives. Slowly, deliberately, and with the most terrifying consequences. 

HERE BEFORE, dir/scr Stacey Gregg, prod Sophie Vickers, starring Andrea Riseborough, Martin McCann, Jonjo O’Neill. 

Belfast born and based, Stacey Gregg has co-directed Inside Bitch for the Royal Court Theatre and Clean Break. Her writing credits include Sophia Al-Maria’s series Little Birds with Juno Temple and Riviera, both for Sky Atlantic, The Innocents, and on the new Charlie Covell series Kaos for Netflix.  

When a new family moves in next door, their young daughter, Megan, quickly captivates Laura, stirring up painful memories of her own daughter who died several years previously. Before long, Laura’s memories turn to obsession as Megan’s unsettling behaviour begins to convince her of something supernatural. As Laura’s determination to get to the bottom of it becomes all-consuming, her family begins to fracture, and the line between the extraordinary and the real becomes ever more obscured in this haunting story about a mother’s love. 

IF THE STREETS WERE ON FIRE, dir Alice Russell, prod Gannesh Rajah, exec prod Julia Nottingham, documentary. 

Alice Russell has worked on shorts, feature docs, and broadcast documentaries for flagship current affairs strands, Panorama and Dispatches, as well as programmes for the BBC, Channel 4, and Vice News.  

In a landscape decimated by austerity measures, a community called “Bike Life” has sprung up in the void, providing one of the last safety nets for young people searching for hope in difficult circumstances. Biking is their escape, their respite and redemption, a lifeline, and a way of seeking solidarity and acceptance amongst a community that understands the realities of living in such close proximity to youth violence. Through the lives of two men from the community, the film weaves a rich tapestry of what it means to be a young person dealing with the realities of street life at this unprecedented moment. 

THE SCORE, dir/scr Malachi Smyth, prods Matthew James Wilkinson, Ben Pullen, co-prod Isabelle Georgeaux, starring Johnny Flynn, Naomi Ackie, Will Poulter. 

Malachi Smyth‘s screenplay for Gateway 6 topped the Brit List 2015 and is due to shoot in 2021. He is about to direct his own screenplay, The Score, this autumn. He also wrote Nocturne, which was produced in 2015 by Bona Fide and directed by Konstantinos Frangopoulos.  

From the producers of Yesterday, THE SCORE boldly combines real time heist-thriller suspense with offbeat romance and a killer soundtrack, starring and featuring the music of Johnny Flynn. Two small-time crooks are on a mission – the ‘score’ – that they both expect will transform their circumstances. At a roadside café, as they wait for a rendezvous hand-over, one falls in love with the waitress and begins to question his life choices… while the threat of real danger is driving to meet them.

SWEETHEART, dir/scr Marley Morrison, prod Michelle Antoniades, starring Jo Hartley, Nell Barlow, Ella-Rae Smith.

SWEETHEART is Marley Morrison’s debut feature and is part of Film London’s Microwave scheme supported by the BFI and BBC Films. Morrison’s first narrative short, Sticks and Stones, screened at BFI Future Film.

Socially awkward and environmentally conscious teen ‘AJ’ has a few things on her mind. Mostly how the methane from the cows is destroying the planet, and how she’d rather be anywhere in the world than on holiday with her painfully ‘normal’ family. Following AJ’s suspension from school, mum Tina has dragged AJ to the family’s favourite coastal holiday park in Dorset. Joining them is AJ’s neurotic and heavily pregnant sister Lucy, curious younger sister Dayna, and Lucy’s foot rubbing boyfriend Steve. For AJ, the only thing worse than spending an entire week with her family is being stuck in a caravan without Wi-Fi. She’s determined to have the worst week of her life, until she meets a suspiciously happy lifeguard named Isla who sees through AJ’s uniquely adopted persona. A quirky, nostalgic coming of age tale for a new generation.

UNTITLED BAFF AKOTO PROJECT, dir Baff Akoto, prods L-A Appiah, Baff Akoto, experimental artist film, featuring Lazara Rosell Albear, Odilon Ngonda, Suhyene Idrissu. 

Baff Akoto’s work is always interested in the fluidity of visual grammar and characters who wrestle with notions of identity and (self) perceptions. Having been mentored by the acclaimed artist John Akomfrah and the Oscar®-winning Asif Kapadia, Akoto is currently developing a debut feature film. Having begun as an award-winning documentarian, Baff started directing drama on Channel 4’s acclaimed Coming Up series of single films from new talent. He went on to direct multiple episodes for several TV drama series, which led to him being named on Idris Elba and Tony Hall’s BBC New Talent Hotlist and by Screen International as a ‘Star of Tomorrow’. Most recently, Baff has been exploring the narrative potential of immersive/VR technologies.  

This experimental artist film is the second in a trilogy from Baff Akoto, following on from Leave the Edges, which is showing in the Experimenta strand of the LFF. The trilogy is contextualised by the current civil rights movement, characterised by Black Lives Matter. Both react against the systemic denigration of Blackness in societies built on colonial imperialism. This project is thematically concerned with heritage, plurality, and identity; a mediation on the societal politics and historic legacies of African diasporic migration. We centre on an Afro-Cuban resident of Brussels who came to Europe from the Caribbean twenty years ago, alongside a French-Congolese family in Paris and a young, second generation, Swiss-Ghanaian exploring their Afropean identities. This project visually probes the relationship between modern diaspora and heritage cultures.

BFI LFF 2020 will be held from 7 to 18 October, screening films both virtually and in cinemas across the UK. You can find out more about the programme here.

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