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The BFI's 10 biggest production awards of 2016

Four films, including the latest projects from Amma Asante, Mike Leigh and Lynne Ramsay, were granted more than £1m in production funding in 2016.

Four films received more than £1m in production funding through the BFI Film Fund this year, with Mike Leigh’s anticipated Peterloo drama leading the way with an award of £1.46m.

The BFI backed around 30 projects with production funding up until December 15. Since launching the BFI Film Fund six years ago, the organisation’s biggest single production grant remains the £2m awarded to Aardman and Studiocanal’s animation Early Man in 2015.

The ten biggest awards of 2016:

1. Peterloo (£1,461,000)

Peterloo Massacre

Mike Leigh’s Peterloo massacre drama is set to depict the protest of more than 60,000 people for parliamentary reform in 1819 and the death of 15 protesters who were charged down by British cavalry troops. Dick Pope, the director’s frequent collaborator, will be the cinematographer for the film, while Georgina Lowe will be executive producer after performing the same role on Mr Turner. Helen Grearson and Gail Egan will be associate producers. The film is currently in pre-production with principal photography scheduled for 2017 and release anticipated for 2018. Amazon have been a reported partner on the film.

2. Where Hands Touch (£1,400,000)

Amma Asante is following up Belle and A United Kingdom with a Second World War romantic-drama featuring an SS officer and a mixed-race German girl, which she has written and is directing. Slated for release next year, the film has already begun shooting in Belgium and stars Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay, Abbie Cornish and Christopher Eccleston. Producers include British Film Company, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology and Pinewood Pictures.

3. Lean On Pete (£1,379,310)

Lean On Pete

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Lean On Pete details the story of a young boy who embarks on a perilous journey to find his long-lost aunt, with his only companion the stolen racehorse Lean on Pete. The anticipated drama is in-demand Andrew Haigh’s follow-up to Berlin Silver Bear winner and UK box-office hit 45 Years. A24 snapped up US rights to The Bureau/Film4 production, while UK distribution is with Curzon Artificial Eye. Charlie Plummer, Steve Buscemi, Travis Fimmel and Chloe Sevigny star.

4. You Were Never Really Here (£1,250,000)

Lynne Ramsay Joaquin Phoenix

Based on the Jonathan Ames book, Lynne Ramsay has written and directed the New York-shot drama, currently in post-production. The film is a mystery story about a war veteran’s attempt to save a girl from a trafficking ring and the fallout from his mission when it goes wrong. The cast includes Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov and Alessandro Nivola. The film – Ramsay’s first since 2011’s We Need To Talk About Kevin – has been acquired by A24 after being produced with the aid of Film4 and the BFI.

5. The Devil Outside (£890,000)

The Devil Outside

The new horror-thriller from Andrew Hulme, director of Cannes 2014 entry Snow In Paradise, concerns a religiously conflicted boy who discovers a body in the woods and believes it to be a sign from God. Starring Noah Carson and Keeley Forsyth, the film is now in post-production. Ipso Facto Productions and Head Gear Films are among the producers.

6. Journey’s End (£850,000)

claflin penguin

RC Sherriff’s 1928 classic play Journey’s End, about trench warfare in 1918, has been adapted for the screen by director Saul Dibb, director of The Duchess and Suite Francaise, and screenwriter Simon Reade (Private Peaceful). The cast includes Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, Toby Jones and Paul Bettany. Filming was due to wrap before Christmas.

7. A Storm In The Stars (£750,000)

Haifaa_AlMansour

With Douglas Booth and Elle Fanning in the lead roles, A Storm In The Stars will portray the love affair between Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who wrote her novel Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus during their marriage. This Irish-US romantic drama comes from Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour, best known for her breakout film Wadjda which debuted at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. Principal photography began in February near Dublin, Ireland and moved to Luxembourg before wrapping in March. It is scheduled for release in 2017.

8. Darkness Visible (£750,000)

Neil Biswas

This supernatural horror film, which was shot in Kolkata, is directed by Neil Biswas, best known for his 2006 Channel 4 documentary Bradford Riots. The story follows a child who goes to India for the first time after his mother is reported injured there. It is currently in post-production and is scheduled for release next year. The film was produced by Bigscope Films and Parti Productions. 

9. Old Boys (£650,000)

Old Boys

Old Boys is a coming-of-age comedy-drama that channels the spirit of Cyrano de Bergerac through the context of a repressed English boarding school. Written by Luke Ponte and Freddy Syborn and directed by first-timer Toby MacDonald, the film stars Alex Lawther as a nerdy schoolboy looking to win the heart of the French teacher’s daughter. Produced by Momac Films, Old Boys is expected to be released next year.

10. Breathe (£600,000)

Andrew Garfield stars as a man afflicted by polio, leading to his paralysis, in a film written by Gladiator scribe William Nicholson and directed by Andy Serkis. The film, which finished shooting in August, also features Claire Foy and Diana Rigg. The Imaginarium Studios production will be distributed by Bleecker Street Media in the US.

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