1. Saint Maud, Studiocanal (£100,000)
The debut feature of writer-director Rose Glass debuted at Toronto in 2019 and immediately drew critical acclaim for Morfydd Clark’s central performance. The psychological horror was set for release by Studiocanal on May 1 but was pushed to October 9 due to cinema closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It went on to take more than £845,000 at the UK and Ireland box office, and leads the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) with a record 17 nominations.
2. Sound Of Metal, Vertigo Releasing (£60,000)
Riz Ahmed stars as a rock drummer who begins to lose his hearing in this drama, which marks the first narrative feature of US director Darius Marder. It premiered at Toronto in September 2019 and won best international feature at Zurich the following month. Its UK release has been delayed by the pandemic but Vertigo plans to open the film theatrically on January 29 on a wave of awards season attention.
3. One Man And His Shoes, Dartmouth Films (£53,453)
The phenomenon of Air Jordan shoes is explored in this documentary, directed by Yemi Bamiro, which was selected for SXSW 2020 before the festival was cancelled and later screened as part of the hybrid BFI London Film Festival. Dartmouth handled a limited UK theatrical release for the film from October 23. The documentary aired on the BBC soon after, in December, as part of a new series of UK films backed by BBC Film and the BFI. Dartmouth negotiated with both organisations to allow a shorter window for the broadcast premiere.
4. The Perfect Candidate, Modern Films (£50,000)
Haifaa Al Mansour’s Saudi drama, about a young doctor who becomes the first woman to run for office in her local city elections, received its world premiere in competition at Venice in 2019. Modern Films had set a UK release for March 27 but those plans were scuppered when a national lockdown saw the closure of all cinemas on March 20. Instead, Modern Films gave the film a digital release on Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player and Modern Films’ own streaming service.
5. And Then We Danced, Peccadillo Pictures (£49,272)
This Georgian gay love story, directed by Sweden’s Levan Akin, premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2019 and won four major prizes at Sweden’s Guldbagge Awards including best film. It took more than $620,000 at the worldwide box office but only £22,400 ($30,000) in the UK due to its release on March 13, the weekend before a nationwide lockdown when audiences were already beginning to distance themselves from cinemas as fears over the virus grew.
6. MLK/FBI, Dogwoof (£40,000)
This documentary explores the investigation and harassment of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. by the FBI, through newly declassified documents. Directed by Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard, it screened at Toronto, New York and was a Telluride selection. Dogwoof has UK rights and plans to release theatrically and on demand from January 15.
7. White Riot, Modern Films (£31,000)
Rubika Shah’s music documentary, about the Rock Against Racism movement of the 1970s and 80s, debuted at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019, winning best documentary. After screening at the Berlinale, it was set to receive a UK release in early July and distributor Modern Films had secured partnerships with music festivals including Glastonbury. But the pandemic pushed the release to September 18 and took around £48,000, including previews and festival showings.
8. Herself, Picturehouse Entertainment (£30,000)
Phyllida Lloyd’s Irish drama, about a single mother who decides to build a house after being let down by the system, debuted at Sundance and was set for release in the UK and Ireland on October 16, a week after its screening at the BFI London Film Festival. But Covid-19 measures in Ireland and the “ongoing challenges surrounding the UK cinema landscape” saw Picturehouse delay release until 2021, with no date yet set. Star and co-writer Clare Dunne is up for best actress at the BIFAs.
9. Perfect 10, 606 Distribution (£15,450)
Eva Riley’s feature directorial debut follows an aspiring gymnast, whose world is turned upside down when she discovers she has a half-brother. It premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019 and received a limited theatrical and digital release on August 7, just a week after many cinemas had begun to re-open post-lockdown. It also featured as part of a recent new series of films that aired on the BBC, backed by BBC Film and the BFI. It has a hat-trick of BIFA nominations including best debut director, most promising newcomer for lead Frankie Box and the discovery award.
10. Eternal Beauty, Bulldog Film Distribution (£13,500)
The second feature from Welsh actor and filmmaker Craig Roberts is a dark comedy starring Sally Hawkins and David Thewlis, and follows a depressed woman who explores new sources of life and love. It premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019 and was released in the UK a year later, on October 2, taking more than £50,000 following a limited run.