The third annual IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI was tonight awarded to Richard Billingham, writer and director of Ray & Liz. At £50,000 it is the most significant bursary of its kind in the UK film industry, expressly designed to support the future careers of exceptional British film talent who have a film in Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival. The UK premiere of Ray & Liz takes place at the festival on Wednesday 17 October.
The Bursary Award was presented by leading British director, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Baby Driver) at a star studded gala dinner at London’s Electric Light Station. The gala dinner marked the eve of the opening of the BFI London Film Festival.
Richard Billingham, winner of the IWC Bursary Award in association with the BFI, said: “I’m very grateful to have been awarded the IWC Bursary Award in Association with the BFI, which will afford me the time needed for research and development of my next film project.”
Edgar Wright said: “These three filmmakers have each made films with a distinct voice – they have a unique vision and specificity that is very powerful. While their films are very different, they all show enormous empathy for their subjects. I applaud each of them for fighting to get their visions on screen and I can’t wait to see what they all do next.”
Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, said: “The jury had such a difficult decision – we deliberated for hours, which is a testament to all three of our finalists and their outstanding work. Richard’s beautiful, extraordinary film stopped me in my tracks, much like his photography has done over many years. His creative journey is one I’m hugely excited to follow and I’m thrilled to see him receive this year’s Bursary Award. The IWC Bursary Award is such a perfect partnership, designed to provide really meaningful support to our most exciting new filmmakers and give them the time they need to develop.”
Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, commented: “We are delighted to be a part of the third annual Bursary Award in association with the BFI. It is vital to give emerging filmmakers the platform to showcase their projects, whilst also supporting them as they continue to create and entertain us with their films.”
Based in Swansea, Richard Billingham was the first recipient of the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize in 1997. The following year BBC2 broadcast his film Fishtank (47mins), produced by Artangel and filmmaker Adam Curtis. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2001 and was nominated for the Turner Prize the same year. His photography work is held in many collections including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, V&A and Tate Galleries, London. He has made work about his immediate family, about animals in zoos around the world and about the British landscape.
Ray & Liz, his first feature film, produced by Jacqui Davies and shot on location in the Midlands where he grew up. It is based on Richard’s memories, focussing on his parents Ray and Liz, their relationship, and its impact on Richard and his younger brother Jason. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, the film unfolds as three episodes which give a powerful evocation of the experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat.
Now in its third year, the Bursary is presented in recognition of outstanding British talent at the beginning of their careers and is designed to support a writer and/or director by providing them with the financial stability and time needed to develop their creativity. The Bursary affords them the freedom to focus on future projects without the pressure of deadlines or the distraction of taking paid work – a precious and extremely rare opportunity for a filmmaker. Previous recipients include writer/directors, Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling) and Daniel Kokotajlo (Apostasy).
The three finalists for this year’s Bursary Award were:
- Richard Billingham – Writer & director of RAY & LIZ – LFF First Feature Competition (UK Premiere)
- Nicole Taylor – Writer of WILD ROSE – LFF Festival Gala (European Premiere)
- Harry Wootliff – Writer & Director of ONLY YOU – LFF First Feature Competition (World Premiere)
Acclaimed directors, Paul Greengrass (Bourne, United 93, Captain Phillips) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Baby Driver) joined actress Rosamund Pike, Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI and Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, to select Richard as the winner of this year’s Bursary Award.
A panel of senior industry figures – Rose Garnett, Director of BBC Films, Ollie Madden, Head of Creative at Film4, Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund, Tricia Tuttle, Artistic Director of the BFI London Film Festival, and Kaleem Aftab, film critic and journalist – selected the shortlist of filmmakers. To be eligible for the Bursary Award a writer, director or writer/director must be UK-based and have their first or second film in Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival.
The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI follows a long tradition of the brand’s commitment to and support of the film industry. A unique partnership that unlocks direct philanthropic support for UK creativity and the future of British film, it was created by the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer and experts from the BFI.