Meet the three British filmmakers vying for director Tom Hooper's seal of approval

By Tempus | 19 Sep 2017 | Culture

These award-winning writer/directors are up for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI

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* Simon Chambers, UK Brand Director IWC, nominees Rungano Nyoni and Daniel Kokotajlo, and BFI CEO Amanda Nevill at Tuesday's event

Three of the UK’s most engaging new filmmakers were shortlisted for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award at a breakfast event at the BFI on Tuesday. The bursary, worth £50,000, will be awarded to one of the three compelling young filmmakers, with the winner chosen by a panel led by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper.

Hot in the running is writer/director Daniel Kokotajlo, whose debut feature Apostasy is based on his own experiences as a Ukranian-Italian Jehovah’s Witness growing up in his native Manchester; I Am Not A Witch writer/director Rungano Nyoni, who has previously won a BAFTA Cymru award for her short film The List; and Michael Pearce, whose debut feature Beast premiered at this year’s Toronto Film Festival (TIFF).

“It’s an honour to be nominated. It’s just so rare to have the opportunity to develop your project under your own terms without having to hustle,” said Nyoni, whose film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival before being screened at TIFF, and is set to be featured alongside her co-nominees’ films at the London Film Festival in October.

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* Daniel Kokotajlo, Rungano Nyoni and Michel Pearce are all shortlisted for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI

The winner will be selected by The King’s Speech director Hooper, BFI CEO Amanda Neville and Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen before being announced at BFI’s annual LUMINOUS gala on 3 October. Grainger-Herr said: “Our priority is the support of up-and-coming filmmakers and their projects. Being storytellers ourselves, we deeply appreciate the creativity and passion that the talented directors and writers selected as the finalists for the second Filmmaker Bursary Award have invested into their work to enchant and captivate their audiences.”

At the shortlist presentation, Kokatajlo thanked the bursary panel for his nomination, adding: “The journey to this point hasn’t been easy for me and that’s why this Award would be a real help – it’s a genuine means to sustain filmmakers from working class backgrounds as we continue to hone new, exciting stories.”

Pearce added: “Finding, developing and making that second lm is one of the most dififcult and significant career challenges a director will face. The IWC Bursary creates an opportunity where a filmmaker can forage for that second film without any immediate financial pressures to work on projects they’re not passionate about. It’s a rare gift, protecting the filmmaker and endowing them with the freedom to continue dreaming in their own unique way.”