A coolly directed short about a morally compromised man whose holiday is ruined by an unruly boy, Hesitation marks Virginia Gilbert's first foray into directing. That it was nominated for a Bafta this year (as well as winning awards at Galway and Chicago film festivals last year) shows what a confident piece of film-making it is.

Gilbert, who got her taste for film as a teenage runner on her father Brian Gilbert's productions, has seen her career take off in the past two years. Funding has been secured not only for Hesitation (from French and UK sources) and Mea Culpa (RTE and Galway Film Centre), which is now in post-production, but also for Whores, a documentary series on Irish prostitution, which has screened on TG4 in Ireland to critical acclaim. Gilbert is now developing a number of films "that move, entertain, amuse, provoke and illuminate". She is working with Dublin-based Element Pictures on the feature Now, Love and is in the early stages of developing a feature project in France with the French producer of Hesitation, as well as a project with Fortuitous Films.

Contact: United Agents, (44) 20 7166 5266



Perhaps it is not surprising brothers Sebastian (standing left) and Hugo Godwin are interested in cinema that explores the theme of the family - but their reference point is more Michael Haneke than Steven Spielberg. The Girls shows how a game between two young sisters and their father takes a sudden nasty turn, while also subtly commenting on the nature of this seemingly nice middle-class family. Smartly directed (Sebastian graduated from Poland's film school in Lodz in 2006) and disconcertingly tense, the film has won fans and prizes at international festivals since its premiere at Edinburgh last year. Their next short, The Rain Horse, is based on a Ted Hughes story and is another tale of family relationships on a holiday that goes wrong. Backed by BBC Films and the Ukfc and starring Jason Isaacs, it has just wrapped. "The Girls impressed us with its powerful command of atmosphere," says Ukfc New Cinema Fund executive Emily Anderton. "The Godwins are drawn to enigmatic stories and have a talent for finding strong source material."

Contact: (44) 7801 259964


Just 23, Michael Lesslie has notched up a formidable array of credits since he started writing at 16. Flipping between stage and screen, he wrote the 2006 Bafta-nominated short Heavy Metal Drummer, adapted Swimming With Sharks for the London stage last year, and has written another short, Airlock Or How To Say Goodbye In Space, which premiered at the Edinburgh film festival last year.

For Blueprint Pictures, Film4 and the Ukfc, he is adapting War Reporting For Cowards, Chris Ayres' book on his time as an embedded war reporter during the invasion of Iraq. Meanwhile, his adaptation of Brian Moore's Lies Of Silence, which looks at a broken marriage against the background of Irish politics, will be directed by Pat O'Connor for Revolution Films and will star Colin Firth.

Lesslie is also writing a psychological chiller in the vein of The Shining and an All About Eve-style drama for one of the UK's biggest producers.

Contact: Casarotto Ramsay, (44) 20 7287 4450


Janis Pugh has been making no-budget shorts, inspired by the stories of her home town of Flint in north Wales, for almost a decade. Her break came in 2005 with documentary short House about elderly women playing bingo and reminiscing about their lives. It won her a scholarship to the London Film School. Pugh graduated last year with Blue Collars And Buttercups which screened at the Locarno, Lodz and Brest film festivals. Part-autobiographical, it is about a young woman with dreams of escaping a life of drudgery in a chicken factory. Mixing quirky visuals with a vivid sense of location, the film's humour and authentic characters have won Pugh fans in the Ukfc and the BBC. She is about to shoot a short opera for ITV Wales and is developing the short Magna Mater about the changing stages of women's lives. Then there are two features: Balaclava Sands about a girl growing up during the social and economic chaos of the 1980s, and Sitting On The Fence With God, which will be a shift in gear from her usual style.

"My films give a voice to a section of the UK whose stories have been ignored for too long," she says.

Contact:, (44) 7861 684922


Just graduated from the National Film and Television School (Nfts), Joseph Pierce's imaginative animated shorts have made a splash on the festival circuit. Big On Love, about a sweet encounter between a man and a woman, shows how expressive graphic animation can be. His graduation film, Stand Up, about a comedian whose routine falls apart, develops the rotoscoped technique he used on Big On Love. It is a tribute to his sense of visual humour, animation skills and talent for storytelling. The film has shown at the Annecy and Edinburgh film festivals. His work also includes State Of Nature, shot on a digital stills camera and made using frame-by-frame manipulation. Pierce is now working on more short and feature ideas with producing partner Jessica Levick and fellow graduate Aneil Karia and has contributed to the Royal Opera House's The Minotaur. "I wish to push my rotoscoped technique, with the goal of breaking into animated features for an adult audience," he says.

Contact: (44) 7886 010318


Having built a solid reputation in television on acclaimed series such as Spooks, Jeremy Lovering confirmed his cinematic ambitions with Miss Austen Regrets, which screened on the BBC in April. A poignant drama about the Regency author, it had a broad filmic sweep and gave a contemporary twist to a period piece, with characters that felt modern and an emotional engagement that was very real.

No wonder he caught the eye of development executives including Working Title's Rachael Prior. "He's at the top of our list of directors from TV who is ready to make the leap to major features," she says. Lovering is developing revenge thriller Child Soldier with BBC Films and Big Talk Productions, comedy horror Wicked Smart written by Robert Nelson Jacobs with Mandalay Entertainment and Big Talk, and human trafficking drama Nanny written by Braulio Mantovani with Fiesta Productions.

"I want to make the kinds of films I want to watch," he says, "films that have a broader canvas, that are entertaining but challenging, what the Americans define as 'elevated genre'. Child Soldier could be a piece of social realism but that's not what I want it to be."

Contact: Casarotto Ramsay, (44) 20 7287 4450


After four years as one of the development team at Working Title, Justin Trefgarne took the bold step of going freelance in 2006. And it was a gamble that has paid off so far. He has made two shorts - the smart, ambitious self-funded science-fiction thriller Life XP and the unnerving horror Unborn, backed by the Ukfc and produced by Trinamite Productions, which has just premiered at Edinburgh - and written the original screenplay Night Shift for the Ukfc, which develops the themes of the futuristic hospital thriller he explored in Life XP. He has also been taken on by Material Entertainment to rewrite The Property, a psychological thriller about a couple desperate to buy a house, which Justin Chadwick will direct. If Working Title has given him anything more than useful contacts, it is a thorough understanding of film as a commercial and creative enterprise. That and a can-do attitude. "I could sit around and wait for something to happen but I want to make films, not just talk about them," he says.

Contact: United Agents, (44) 20 7166 5266


Matthew Walker's smart little animations have won him an army of fans at festivals. John And Karen, a sweet film about a penguin and a polar bear making up over tea and biscuits, premiered at Edinburgh last year and has been around the world winning awards including best short at Italy's Cartoons on the Bay and at the Aspen Filmfest.

His most recent film, Operator, about a man's conversation with God, which he made in a month, won the DepicT award at Bristol's Encounters last year and has just screened at Annecy and Edinburgh. They both share the dry humour and quirky characterisation he displayed in his 2005 graduation film Astronauts. Walker is now making the digital short Little Face for South West Screen, about a man and his imaginary friend, and is working on a web series for Aardman Animations.

Contact: Arthur Cox, (44) 117 953 9788


A background working in production has served Jane Linfoot well. Not only because it has given her an address book full of contacts to call on when making her self-financed shorts, but because it has taught her the importance of the relationship between directors and actors.

Two shorts so far - Creep, about a little boy with a secret, and the triptych Youth, about young people, which screened at Edinburgh last year - show a keen sense of observation and a measured hand. "Youth absolutely captured the essence of what it means to be young," says Film4's executive in charge of new talent, Jo McClellan. "She has a particular skill working with young non-actors and her motivation is incredibly impressive - she got both films off the ground single-handedly." She is preparing another short, On Your Own, about a boy in care whose attempts to be independent are thwarted by his environment, and is working on her feature debut, a dark drama set in North Yorkshire, exploring similar themes to her shorts.



Polly Stenham has already caused quite a stir in the London theatre world. Her debut, That Face, which has just finished a second run in the West End, was hailed as the most exciting in years. A searing portrait of a middle-class family in crisis, its energy, humour and raw emotion had critics comparing her to Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams. And this for a writer who is just 21. The film world is now knocking at her door. Under the mentorship of Pawel Pawlikowski, she is working on a film version of the play for the Ukfc, while for Film4 and Ruby Films she is adapting the anonymously written novel Sabine. "That Face grabbed me in the first scene and proved what an exciting voice Polly is," says Ukfc Development Fund head Tanya Seghatchian. "We're giving her space to develop that voice."

Contact: Alan Brodie Representation, (44) 20 7079 7990.