The shortlisted teams were asked to give a 7-minute pitch and show clips of footage, and then fielded questions from the panel about the strength of the stories, characters and cinematic potential of the projects.
The projects, which were shortlisted by a team of senior executives from the BFI and Sheffield Doc/Fest, include:
1 - They are certainly all intriguing projects, but of most interest to this blog (given its stated mission) is Sophie Fiennes’s “Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life,” co-produced with James Wilson and Katie Holly. The film will create a cinematic journey into the private and public worlds of Grace Jones, mixing intimate personal footage with unique staged musical sequences.
2 - Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s “The Lovers and the Despot,” produced by Natasha Dack, which details the bizarre love story of a celebrity director and actress kidnapped by movie-mad dictator Kim Jong-il, and forced to make films in the communist state.
3 - And finally Iain Cunningham’s “Irene’s Ghost,” produced by Rebecca Mark-Lawson - a part animated feature documentary that follows the moving journey of the filmmaker to build a picture of the mother he never knew.
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 of the closest friends of Mark Duggan, the man whose death at the hands of armed policed sparked the UK riots of 2011; and Steve Loveridge’s “Untitled M.I.A. Project,” a chronicle of musician M.I.A. through personal archive footage filmed by the controversial artist over 20 years.
Lizzie Francke, BFI Film Fund Senior Executive, 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. Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life, The Lovers and the Despot and Irene’s Ghost are entertaining, exciting and emotive stories that will enthral audiences in the UK and abroad. We’re also keen to help the filmmakers of Down By Law and Untitled M.I.A. Project in developing their projects further, and we congratulate all those selected to pitch in what was an exceptionally strong short list.”
The pitching took place on Monday June 9, and the successful projects were announced today in a session chaired by British Council Film’s Will Massa, as part of Doc/Fest’s industry program.
Nothing to see of the Grace Jones project yet unfortunately. But I’m on the job, so stay tuned…
And again, it does prompt the question: Has there ever been a comprehensive film (fiction or non-fiction) on the personal and professional life of Grace Jones? [h/t]