The 10 titles that were the biggest recipients of distribution funding from the British Film Institute (BFI) received a total of £626,250 from the organisation’s Audience Fund.
The fund supports cinema releases in two ways. The first is through Audience Fund Project Awards, which follow an application from a distributor applying to support a specific title. The second is via Audience Fund Organisation Awards, where a distributor secures an annual award to support a number of titles across the year.
The new BFI National Lottery funding strategy will kick in from April 2023, with £27.6m set aside for audience development across the next three years. One part of this funding strategy will include a BFI National Lottery Audience Project Fund to support the work of distributors and exhibitors, which will give out £15m across three years to support audience-facing activity.
1. Ali & Ava, Altitude Film Distribution (£126,735)
Clio Barnard’s love story, Ali & Ava, world premiered at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2021, ahead of its theatrical release in the UK and Ireland on March 4 of this year, where it grossed £351,617. The drama is set in and shot in Bradford, and sees Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook play a pair of lonely souls who meet unexpectedly and form a deep but complicated connection. Akhtar won the best actor British Independent Film Award (Bifa) for his performance. Ali & Ava was supported as part of Altitude’s 2021-22 organisational award from the BFI Audience Fund. The award totalled £488,776.
2. The Worst Person In The World, Mubi (£105,785)
Another Cannes 2021 premiere in the top 10 is Joachim Trier’s Norwegian drama. Following its March 25 release, it passed the £1m mark at the UK-Ireland box office. Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie star in this tale of one woman’s journey through romantic relationships and self-discovery. It received the theatrical campaign of the year award (199 sites or under) as well as the international feature film campaign of the year award at the Big Screen Awards in November.
3=. Aftersun, Mubi (£75,000)
Charlotte Wells’ debut sees a woman reflect on a childhood holiday with her troubled father. Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio star. The drama premiered at this year’s Cannes and swooped up seven awards at the Bifas, and appears in good stead for next year’s Baftas. It hit cinemas on November 18 and by the weekend of December 16-18 had taken just shy of the £1m mark at the UK-Ireland box office, having grossed £944,958.
3=. Corsage, Picturehouse Entertainment (£75,000)
Vicky Krieps plays Austrian Empress Elisabeth, or as Screen’s review describes her a “chain-smoking self-absorbed uber-bitch” in Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage. The feature won the best film prize in official competition at the BFI London Film Festival, following its Cannes 2022 premiere. It is set in Vienna in 1877, as the empress turns 40, and begins to rebel against her passive role in court. The film has been selected to represent Austria at next year’s Oscars in the best international feature category, and is released in the UK and Ireland on December 26.
5. Where is Anne Frank, Altitude Film Distribution (£48,530)
Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman’s animation premiered at Cannes in 2021, ahead of playing at the Jerusalem Film Festival. It brings to life Kitty, the imaginary girl to whom Anne Frank wrote her diary, and places her in modern day Amsterdam. The feature was released in the UK and Ireland on August 12, where it made £45,092 at the box office. Where Is Anne Frank was supported through Altitude’s 2022-23 organisational award. The total award was £199,064.
6. Swan Song, Peccadillo Pictures (£45,900)
This US comedy is directed by Todd Stephens and follows a retired hairdresser who escapes his nursing home to fulfil the dying wish of a former client. It took £31,498 for Peccadillo Pictures, a distribution outfit that specialises in LGBT titles, after its June 10 release date. Udo Kier and Jennifer Coolidge star. Swan Song was supported via Peccadillo’s 2022-23 organisational award. The total award was £113,500
7=. Happening, Picturehouse Entertainment (£40,000)
Audrey Diwan’s Venice 2021 Golden Lion winner is set in 1963 France, as a bright student in a provincial university town becomes increasingly desperate to get an illegal backstreet abortion after falling pregnant. Anamaria Vartolomei plays the lead, a role for which she won the César award for most promising actress. It was released on April 22, bringing in £105,589.
7=. The Feast, Picturehouse Entertainment (£40,000)
Lee Haven Jones’ Welsh-language SXSW premiere – Welsh title, Gwledd – unspools over the course of an evening, as a wealthy family gathers for a dinner in their palatial house in a remote part of Wales. The arrival of a mysterious young woman as their waitress starts to unravel their lives. It is the director’s feature debut, and grossed £71,302 at the box office, with a August 19 release date.
9. Boiling Point, Vertigo Releasing (£35,000)
Philip Barantini’s single-shot Karlovy Vary premiere follows an intense night in a restaurant that descends into chaos and despair for its employees. Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, Hannah Walters and Screen Stars of Tomorrow Malachi Kirby and Lauryn Ajufo star. After its January 7 release date, it grossed £518,559. A spin-off TV series is the works with the BBC.
10. Hive, Altitude Film Distribution (£34,300)
This Kosovo-set debut was the winner in Sundance’s World Dramatic section. Blerta Basholli directs the true story that examines the aftermath for villagers living in Krusha e Madhe, the site of a 1999 Kosovan massacre. It made £30,921after its March 18 debut. Hive was supported as part of Altitude’s 2021-22 organisational award from the BFI Audience Fund. The award totalled £488,776.
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