Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen and the BFI revealed the four finalists vying for the first ever IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI – at GBP 50,000, the most significant bursary of its kind in the UK film industry. The four finalists are Joseph a. Adesunloye, writer/director of White Colour Black, Hope Dickson Leach writer/director of The Levelling, Alice Lowe, writer/director of Prevenge, and Paul Anton Smith, director of Have You Seen My Movie?

The IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award is presented in recognition of outstanding British talent and is designed to support a writer and/or director at the beginning of their career, bringing them the financial stability and time needed to develop their creativity and focus on future projects without the pressure of deadlines or the distraction of taking paid work – a precious and extremely rare opportunity for a filmmaker.

To be eligible for the Bursary Award, a writer and/or director must be UK-based and have their first or second film in the Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express®. The high calibre of shortlisted applicants is a testament to the vibrant creativity of British independent filmmaking. Drawn from a longlist of 15 entries, the final four show a diversity of voices and styles, working across comedy, horror, drama and artist film as well as video to present original work with a distinctive tone.

Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, comments: “IWC proudly supports film through our many film festival partnerships across the world, and we are delighted to have so many talented directors and writers selected as the finalists for our Filmmaker Bursary Award here in the UK for the first time.” Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, comments: “This extraordinary partnership and the generosity of our friends at IWC Schaffhausen is enabling us to support exciting upand- coming British talent in a truly dynamic way. We have an incredible shortlist of filmmakers and a very difficult decision to make.”

In a unique partnership that unlocks direct philanthropic support for UK creativity and the future of British film, the Filmmaker Bursary Award was created by Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen and experts from the BFI. IWC Schaffhausen has been a sponsor of the BFI and the Official Time Partner of the BFI London Film Festival since 2014.

British-Nigerian filmmaker Joseph a. Adesunloye, the writer/director of White Colour Black, said: “The Bursary Award would allow greater artistic freedom for me to develop my work and provide the opportunity for me to live whilst doing so. It would also represent an enormous chance for me because of the network the BFI can offer.

I am keenly interested in developing work that is both artistic and commercially viable in the British film space and to bring a new voice to British film with new perspectives.”

Edinburgh-based filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach, writer/ director of The Levelling, said: “The time between first and second features can be worryingly protracted – especially for female filmmakers. So I want to move faster, while having the luxury of quality, creative time. By supporting my next feature, the Bursary Award would also support emerging filmmakers looking for female role models in feature filmmaking, and audiences hungry for more diverse stories and storytellers.”

London-based filmmaker Alice Lowe, writer/director of Prevenge, said: “Prevenge was my deliberate baby-shaped hand grenade that I wanted to throw into the industry. I want to make sci-fi, period drama, comedy, art. I don’t see any limits. Too often I feel women become the ‘midwives’ of creativity. I want to birth my own films. And I’ve only just started.”

London-based filmmaker Paul Anton Smith, director of Have You Seen My Movie?, said: “Have You Seen My Movie? is a montage in camouflage, an appropriation of moviemaking and a hijacking of moviegoing. The inaugural IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award would enable me to develop future projects such as a filmed narrative feature but, for now, I would simply like to extend my humble gratitude to IWC Schaffhausen and the BFI for their encouragement and their support of my film, which is representative of a 21st-century, ever-evolving art form and of the theatrical experience as being the most critical component of what we call ‘magic’ at the movies.”

A prestigious Shortlisting Panel including director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham and upcoming Viceroy’s House), Joe Oppenheimer, acting head of BBC Films, and Rose Garnett, head of development at Film4, alongside Bursary Award architects Clare Stewart, director of the BFI London Film Festival and Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund, selected the four filmmaker finalists.

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, and a key representative of the UK film industry (to be announced soon) will decide which distinguished filmmaker will benefit from this extraordinary opportunity, awarding them the Bursary Award at the glittering IWC Gala Dinner in honour of the BFI to be held at the Rosewood in London on 4 October 2016.

The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI follows a long tradition of the brand’s commitment to and support of the film industry – evidenced by its established partnerships with the Tribeca Film Festival, the Dubai International Film Festival, the Zurich Film Festival, the Beijing International Film Festival and the Singapore International Film Festival, as well as the brand’s long-standing relationships with high-profile film talent, including Christoph Waltz and Cate Blanchett, all of which demonstrates IWC’s ongoing passion for film.

IWC has also launched the exclusive Pilot’s Watch Spitfire Chronograph Edition “BFI London Film Festival 2016” (Ref. IW387812), a limited edition of just 60 timepieces in stainless steel on an elegant blue strap. Each model is numbered on the case back, alongside the inscription “BFI Film Forever”, increasing their appeal to collectors. The timepiece features an IWC in-house 89365-calibre movement alongside a chronograph and flyback function and is available at the IWC Boutique London, 138 New Bond Street, as well as selected retailers in the United Kingdom.