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.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.