The BFI Film Fund has chosen to support feature documentaries Dark Horse and Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer after holding its first public pitching session at Sheffield Doc/Fest.
The British funding body introduced the twice annual pitching event earlier this year in response to an increase in documentary applicants and to allow for greater transparency in the documentary financing process.
A panel of senior executives from the BFI and the UK festival shortlisted nearly 50 applications, from which eight projects were selected to pitch for funding on June 15 before a panel including reps from the BFI, Picturehouse and SXSW Film.
Directed by Louise Osmond and produced by Darlow Smithson Productions and World’s End Pictures, Dark Horse recounts the story of a group of friends from a working men’s club in a Welsh village who decide to breed a racehorse. The panel deemed it a “crowd-pleaser with true theatrical promise” and lauded “its potential to be at once profound, moving, thrilling and cinematic, with a striking sense of time and place.”
Thomas Quick explores the case of a notorious Swedish serial killer who confessed to raping, murdering and eating more than 30 people, but could potentially be innocent. Directed by Brian Hill and produced by London-based Century Films, the film promises to blend true crime, film noir and thriller elements.
“The pitch avoided sensationalizing its subject, by revealing the film’s multiple layers and themes, including the questionable motives and outcomes of Quick’s psychotherapists and prosecutors,” the panel said in a statement.
The BFI also committed to “further engagement” on director Jerry Rothwell’s How To Change the World, which chronicles the lives and protest actions of the founders of environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace in the 1970s.
“A documentary’s cinematic potential boils down to the three A’s: authorship, audience, aesthetic,” said BFI Film Fund senior executive Lizzie Francke in a statement. “These qualities set documentaries of cinematic scale and ambition apart, ensuring that the films stand tall within the Film Fund’s portfolio and provide a legacy for the future within the BFI’s national archive. Dark Horse and Thomas Quick fulfilled the brief and both films promise a treat for audiences.”
The public pitching forum took place during Doc/Fest’s industry program and was open to delegates. The panelists included Francke, BFI Film Fund director Ben Roberts, SXSW Film producer Janet Pierson and Picturehouse Cinemas/Picturehouse Entertainment’s director of programming and acquisitions Claire Binns.
A second pitching session will take place later in the year.