Three of Creative England's iFeatures films are to recieve UK premieres at BFI London Film Festival.
Lady Macbeth, Spaceship and The Levelling, all films developed and produced through Creative England’s iFeatures programme and supported with National Lottery funding, will receive their UK premieres this October as part of the BFI London Film Festival (LFF), with Lady Macbeth and The Levelling both in competition for Best First Feature.
Prior to the LFF, Toronto International Film Festival hosts the world premiere of both Lady Macbeth and The Levelling in September, with San Sebastian Film Festival also hosting Lady Macbeth’s European premiere.
Lady Macbeth (dir. William Oldroyd), Spaceship (writer/director Alex Taylor) and The Levelling (writer/director Hope Dickson Leach) have all been developed through iFeatures, Creative England’s flagship intiative to discover, support and develop the next generation of UK feature film-makers. The programme is supported by BBC Films, the BFI and Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, which is partly funded by the National Lottery, along with additional finance from Great Point Media.
Their festival success continues the scheme’s excellent track record in securing A list festival platforms. BIFA winner The Goob (writer/director Guy Myhill), screened in competion at Venice Film Festival in 2015, whilst Norfolk (writer/director Martin Radich) was in competition in Rotterdam and Edinburgh, and Spaceship received its world premiere at SXSW this year.
The programme provides funding to filmmakers to allow them to make their first feature, and offers successful applicants guidance, support and mentoring from top industry experts. So far eight films have been completed through iFeatures, another is due to start production later this year and three more will be green-lit in 2017 from the current programme, iFeatures4. The scheme has supported 161 writers, producers and directors through its talent development and training provision.
Lady Macbeth, Spaceship and The Levelling all feature strong female protagonists at the heart of their stories attracting some of the brightest young talent from around the country including Florence Pugh (The Falling), Ellie Kendrick (Game of Thrones) and Alexa Davies (Raised by Wolves). Filming locations in Durham and Northumberland in the North East (Lady Macbeth), Burrowbridge in Somerset (The Levelling) and Farnborough in Surrey (Spaceship) have provided a strong on screen identity for these distinctive towns and cities.
Caroline Norbury MBE, Chief Executive of Creative England, said: “ The original objective of iFeatures was to become a great development lab for first time feature filmmakers and in particular to support stories reflecting the identity of places, communities and characters in the English regions.
“Six years on we’ve not only created an impressive development programme, we’re also producing an incredibly strong set of films, which are getting the recognition they deserve at high profile festivals across the world.”
Lady Macbeth is the debut feature from theatre director William Oldroyd. The period drama about a loveless marriage of convenience stars British newcomer Florence Pugh from Oxfordshire in the lead role of Katherine. Katherine is stifled by a marriage to a bitter man twice her age, and his cold, unforgiving family. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
This is Oldroyd’s first feature film, he previously worked in theatre as Director in Residence at the Young Vic Theatre where he directed Ghosts by Ibsen in a new version by Franc McGuinness. The producer of Lady Macbeth is Oscar nominee Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly and the film was written by award-winning playwright Alice Birch.
Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly said: “It is a great privilege that Lady Macbeth has been selected to screen at the London Film Festival. We are very excited to take part in this wonderful film festival and to share our film with our home country.”
Spaceship tells the story of Lucidia, a British cyber-goth teenager who fakes her own alien abduction, forcing her father Gabriel to search for her in a surreal world of black holes and unicorns where everyone is looking for a way out. Spaceship stars Antti Reini (The Man Without a Past) as Gabriel, and breakout young talent in Alexa Davies, Lara Peake, Tallulah Haddon, and Lucian Collier.
Spaceship is written and directed by Alex Taylor and is Alex’s first feature film. He was recently named a UK Star of Tomorrow by Screen International. The producers are Yorkshire-based Nicola Bowen and Olivier Kaempfer from London.
Alex Taylor comments: "With Spaceship I wanted to make a film fuelled by teenage energy, immersing the viewer in a crazy, chaotic, exhilarating and inspiring world. This movie is for anyone who feels alone in their quest to be something different, and I can’t wait to share it with the audiences at BFI LFF.”
Ellie Kendrick (Game of Thrones) heads the cast of The Levelling, which follows trainee veterinarian Clover Catto on her return to the farm where she grew up after hearing news that her brother Harry has died—an apparent suicide. Finding the family home in ruins following recent floods that devastated the area, Clover is forced to confront her difficult father Aubrey – about the farm, the livestock and, crucially, the details surrounding Harry’s death. As the funeral approaches Clover’s discoveries send her on an emotional journey of reckoning - with the land, her family and herself.
The Levelling is written and directed by Hope Dickson Leach, who was also named Star of Tomorrow by Screen International; while Filmmaker Magazine named her one of the ’25 New Faces of Independent Film’. The film is produced by Rachel Robey of Wellington Films.
Rachel Robey, producer, The Levelling, said: “We are thrilled to be presenting Hope Dickson Leach’s magnetic debut feature film The Levelling at the London Film Festival in competition for The Sutherland Award. The London Film Festival is the UK’s premiere film festival and we couldn’t be more excited to be included in the programme. The success of The Levelling so far is a huge testament to our partners in the iFeatures scheme which represents a unique opportunity for directors to produce their debut features with the support of leading financiers and mentors.”