Doc/Fest ’14: BFI backs “Grace Jones,” “Irene’s Ghost”

The BFI Film Fund has thrown its support behind three feature docs, following a pitching session held at and in partnership with the Sheffield Doc/Fest.
June 11, 2014

The BFI Film Fund has thrown its support behind three feature docs, following a pitching session held at and in partnership with the Sheffield Doc/Fest.

The British funding body will support Sophie Fiennes’s Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life, a doc coproduced with James Wilson and Katie Holly, which promises to examine the private and public life of the Jamaican singer, mixing personal footage unique staged musical sequences.

Also selected for backing was Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s The Lovers and the Despot, produced by Natasha Dack, which purportedly details the bizarre love story of a celebrity director and an actress kidnapped by a North Korean dictator and forced to make films in the communist state.

The BFI also threw its weight behind Iain Cunningham’s part animated feature doc Irene’s Ghost, produced by Rebecca Mark-Lawson, which sees the director building a portrait of the mother he never knew.

The projects, which each had seven minutes to pitch to the BFI panel, were shortlisted by a team of senior executives from the BFI and Sheffield Doc/Fest, and selected to present to a panel including representatives from the Film Fund and SXSW Film.

In addition to the three chosen projects, the BFI has committed to further engagement on George Amponsah’s hybrid observational documentary Down By Law, which follows several years in the lives of two friends of Mark Duggan, a man whose death at the hands of armed police sparked the UK riots of 2011; and Steve Loveridge’s Untitled M.I.A. Project, a Britdoc-backed chronicle of musician M.I.A. which uses personal archive footage filmed by the artist over 20 years.

BFI Film Fund senior executive Lizzie Francke said: “We were blown away by the quality of all the projects selected to pitch at the Sheffield Doc/Fest session.

“The pitch session provides a valuable opportunity to pinpoint those documentary projects with the potential to capture the imagination of cinema audiences, and the creative vision of filmmakers to bring characters to the big screen in thought-provoking and exciting ways.”

Each project will receive a letter of intent from the BFI, but the exact funding amounts to be granted by the organization have yet to be finalized for the films.

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Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.