The 64th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express came to a close last night with a virtual ceremony announcing the winners of the inaugural Virtual LFF Audience Awards and the prestigious IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary winner, in association with the BFI. Screen International Star of Tomorrow and first-time feature director of Wildfire, Cathy Brady, was announced as the winner of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI.
The £50,000 Bursary, which awards an outstanding first or second time UK writer, director, or writer/director presenting work at the BFI London Film Festival, was presented by Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen. Brady, who is from Northern Ireland, was selected as the winner by Grainger-Herr along with Ben Roberts, Chief Executive, BFI, and acclaimed actor, director, screenwriter, producer and poet Michaela Coel. Wildfire, which premiered at the LFF on 10th October, tells the story of two sisters whose familial bonds are pushed to breaking point in a simmering drama set on the Irish border.
An inseparable pair brought up in a small town by the Irish border, Lauren and Kelly’s lives fell apart with the mysterious death of their mother. Left to pick up the pieces, Lauren is confronted with their dark past when Kelly returns home having been missing for a year. An intense sisterhood reignited, Kelly’s desire to unearth their history is not welcomed by all, and the town is rife with rumours and malice that threaten to overwhelm them.
Wildfire is written and directed by Cathy Brady. The film stars Nora-Jane Noone (Brooklyn, Doomsday), Nika McGuigan (Philomena), Kate Dickie (The Witch, Prometheus) and Martin McCann (The Survivalist, ’71).
Tempesta Films’ Carlo Cresto-Dina (Happy As Lazzaro) is producing with Cowboy Films’ Charles Steel (The Last King of Scotland, Top Boy) and Samson Films’ David Collins (Once, Float Like A Butterfly)
An Irish-UK co-production, Wildfire was supported through development and production by the BFI (using funds from the National Lottery), Screen Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and the Wellcome Trust. Film4, Sulcata Productions, Illium and Lexis Media also co-financed production. Lizzie Francke, Celine Haddad, Lauren Dark, Emma Duffy, Robert Halmi and Jim Reeve are the executive producers.
I’m deeply honoured to receive the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary. In a year that has been so turbulent for so many, it feels like a safe harbour and for a first feature filmmaker, the chance to recalibrate, dream and immerse myself in the next project is such an incredible gift. Thank you IWC and BFI.Cathy Brady, Writer/Director
Wildfire is a compelling story, expertly told and unlike anything we had seen in UK filmmaking before. Cathy weaves an emotionally rich, intimate story of two sisters elegantly framed against a wider, politically charged backdrop, she says so much without saying very much at all. Great films make you think and jolt you out of your comfort zone, in the very best way Wildfire was deliciously uncomfortable!Michaela Coel, Judge
We are delighted to be a part of the fifth annual IWC Bursary Award in association with the BFI. Since its launch the Bursary Award has given emerging and aspiring filmmakers the opportunity to amplify their creativity, giving them a platform from which they can convey their talent and showcase it to the world. The legacy that has been created from this award is something we are extremely proud of, and I do not doubt that all three finalists will go on to great things.Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO – IWC Schaffhausen
All three finalists presented astonishing first or second feature films, further evidence of the UK’s exceptional filmmaking talent. Supporting filmmakers through the earlier stages of their career is one of our top priorities and we’re incredibly proud of how our partnership with IWC has contributed to this for the past 5 years, and hopefully many more. Congratulations to Aleem, Francis and Cathy, we can’t wait to see what you do next.Ben Roberts, Chief Executive – BFI
The other nominees this year were Aleem Khan, director of After Love and Francis Lee, director of this year’s Closing film Ammonite.