BFI Future Film Festival Announces 2021 Film Programme, Awards Jury And Award Nominees For Digital EDition This February | The Fan Carpet

BFI Future Film Festival Announces 2021 Film Programme, Awards Jury And Award Nominees For Digital EDition This February

22 January 2021

The 14th BFI Future Film Festival, 18-21 February 2021 – free Festival programme available online globally to aspiring filmmakers aged 16-25

The BFI today announce the programme of 45 short films that have been selected to screen in the 14th edition of the BFI Future Film Festival, which will take place online from 18-21 February 2021. The films, which will all be available to watch for free on BFI Player during the Festival (UK only), are eligible for the BFI Future Film Festival Awards, supported by Netflix, the nominees for which are also revealed today. 3 of the 10 Awards will be judged by an esteemed Festival Jury chaired by Number 9 Films’ Elizabeth Karlsen, alongside activist and filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab (FOR SAMA), broadcaster and filmmaker Reggie Yates (BBC3 EXTREME SERIES) and actors Daisy Edgar-Jones (NORMAL PEOPLE) and Malachi Kirby (MANGROVE). 

BFI Future Film Festival Awards Jury Chair, Elizabeth Karlsen (Producer, Number 9 Films) said: It’s an honour to be this year’s Jury Chair and I very much look forward to deliberating with my fellow jurors on some of the most exciting, thought-provoking and original work out there from talented young filmmakers.”

The BFI are also delighted to announce Netflix as the 2021 Festival’s Main Sponsor and year-round sponsor of BFI Festivals. They are supporting the BFI Future Film Festival Awards and presenting the Best Documentary Award, which includes a year of mentoring with Jonny Taylor, Netflix’s Original Documentaries Commissioner. We are also thrilled to announce Blackmagic Design – one of the world's leading innovators and manufacturers of creative video technology – as this year’s official partner. They will be supporting the New Talent Award and hosting a number of DaVinci Resolve training workshops throughout the festival (more details of which will be announced on 29 January).

Award-nominees across ten categories will be in the running for prize money totalling more than £10,000 and further mentorships from industry leaders – the winners will be revealed at the BFI Future Film Festival 2021 Awards Ceremony supported by Netflix, which will take place virtually on 21 February. This year’s Festival, which is aimed at aspiring filmmakers aged 16-25, is completely free of charge, thanks to support from Julia and Hans Rausing, enabling young people from every corner of the UK, and across the world, to benefit from masterclasses and talks from the best in the business. Full details of the events programme (which will be available globally) will be announced on 29 January.




This year’s programme of 45 shorts made by young filmmakers aged 16-25 are an extraordinary collection of films that tackle a broad range of subjects, from race, disability and sexuality to friendship and fandom, as well as some nods to the pandemic. These films, which are all available to watch for free on BFI Player from 18-21 February (UK only), all display phenomenal skill and creativity and no doubt feature many future stars of the film industry, both in the UK and internationally.

Nominees – BFI Future Film Festival 2021 Awards, supported by Netflix:

Best Director (Supported by Julia and Hans Rausing – Judged by BFI FFF Awards Jury)

Prize: £1,500

  • BULLDOG (Kieran Stringfellow, 2020, UK) is a beautifully executed film that follows a rough sleeper who has a score to settle after spending the night in a cell (also nominated for Best Film)
  • DAMN HOBO! (Luis Gerardo LoGar, 2020, Mexico) is an ethereal film depicting a homeless man getting lost in Mexico City, with music as his only guide; nominated for four awards in total it is also in the running for Best Experimental Film, Best International Film and Best Writer
  • When Daphne and Mafer meet at a hotel, they quickly become something more than friends in INSTRUCTIONS TO LET GO (Gustavo Gamero, 2019, Mexico), nominated for Best Director and Best International Film
  • THE ROSE OF MANILA (Alex Westfall, 2020, Philippines, USA), which is nominated for Best Director, Best Experimental Film and Best International Film, depicts a formative moment in the life of young Imelda Marcos


Best Film (Supported by Chapman Charitable Trust – Judged by BFI FFF Awards Jury)

Prize: £1,000 + grading package from Digital Orchard

  • BULLDOG (Kieran Stringfellow, 2020, UK) – see Best Director section
  • DOUBLE HAPPINESS (Scarlett Li, 2020, China, USA) is a funny and original piece that questions whether a traditional Chinese wedding makes parents regress to their most childish selves; also up for Best International Film and Best Writer
  • Brilliantly madcap animated musical MEOW OR NEVER (Neeraja Raj, 2020, UK), which is also nominated for Best Animation and Best Writer, stars a 'cat'-stronaut who travels the galaxy looking for the meaning of life, along the way encountering a space pup eager to help
  • Rory Wilson’s powerful and nuanced LOCO (2020, UK) follows a train driver who is left traumatised after an incident on the tracks

Best New Talent (Supported by Blackmagic Design – Judged by BFI FFF Awards Jury)

Prize: £4,000 + Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and a copy of DaVinci Resolve Studio from Blackmagic Design + mentoring support from BFI Film Academy

  • The hero of CRISPY LOVE-LINE (Stefania Bodescu, 2020, UK), which is also nominated for Best Animation and Best Micro Short, is a young man with a deep passion for crisps, who leaves a comment online, kicking off a one-sided, virtual love story
  • Chloe May Law’s HEARTTHROB (2020, UK) is a timely short about a teenage girl who has to face the true nature of her favourite musician when allegations against him come to light (also nominated for Best Writer)
  • MUSIC FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (Emmanuel Li, 2020, UK) is another timely film – would the apocalypse really be all that bad? Teenage Freddie certainly doesn't seem to think so, as he boogies his troubles away on a gorgeous sunny hill
  • In YANDASS.MOV (Sam Arbor, 2019, UK), Yandass just wants to dance; when something gets in the way, she is plunged into a scary world where her passion takes over (also nominated for Best Experimental Film)


Best Documentary (Supported by Netflix – Judged by Jonny Taylor, Netflix)

Prize: One-year mentoring package from Jonny Taylor, Original Documentaries Commissioner, Netflix

  • AS FAR AS OUR EYES CAN SEE (Lilly Zhuang, 2019, UK, USA) is a visual diary written by five hands instead of one – an attempt to snatch the eternal out of the ever-fleeting flow of time
  • Two men share their experiences of working in the food industrial complex in DISJOINTED (Clara Helbig, 2020, UK, Germany)
  • In FACES (Patrick Taylor, 2020, UK), a group of young people discuss the joys and challenges of being mixed race
  • JUDE (Amos Menin, 2020, UK) is a powerful film in which the filmmaker’s Grandfather recounts how he lost everything as a child escaping the holocaust
  • LIFE IS A HIGHWAY (Neelakshi Yadav, 2020, India), which is also nominated for Best International Film, follow the rickshaw drivers, or 'Autowalas', of New Delhi, as they talk about the economic struggles, stigmas and socio-political issues that impact their livelihoods


Best Animation (supported by BlinkInk – Judged by Bart Yates, BlinkInk)

Prize: £1000 + mentoring package

  • A woman reflects on a past love story while she is driving at sunset in BURN & SOOTHE (Shiyi Li, 2019, UK)
  • CRISPY LOVE-LINE (Stefania Bodescu, 2020, UK) – see Best New Talent section
  • In stop-motion short EARLY GRIEF SPECIAL (Jessica Chowdhury, 2020, UK), a greasy spoon diner is the only place in London where people are allowed to grieve
  • MEOW OR NEVER (Neeraja Raj, 2020, UK) – see Best Film section
  • Claymation film OVERLOAD (Joe Blandamer, 2019, UK) illuminates the audience on the struggles of a train journey for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • When an astronaut ponders the silence of space, he comes upon a startling self-realisation in THE QUIET (Radheya Jegatheva, 2019, Australia), which is also nominated for Best International Film
  • THE TALE OF EDGAR HARE (Hannah Miller, Abigail Lindon, Hana Bhatti, UK, 2020) is a twist on Edgar Allan Poe's literary classic ‘The Tell Tale Heart’, which is also nominated for Best Micro Short


Best Experimental Film (Supported by Black Dog Films – Judged by BFI Film Academy Young Programmers)

Prize: £1000 + mentoring package

  • Two villagers hide inside a well to escape an angry mob in BURN THE WITCH (Matty Crawford, 2020, UK)
  • DAMN HOBO! (Luis Gerardo LoGar, 2020, Mexico) – see Best Director section
  • Through spoken word poetry coupled with evocative images, DUDU (Simisolaoluwa Akande, 2018, UK) is  beautifully lyrical exploration of the issue of colourism and its effects on self-identity
  • PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF (Elsa Hunter-Weston, 2020, UK) explores the difficulties facing a young person on the cusp of adulthood as they wrestle with their own identity
  • THE ROSE OF MANILA (Alex Westfall, 2020, Philippines, USA) – see Best Director section
  • YANDASS.MOV (Dir. Sam Arbor) – see Best New Talent section


Best Micro Short (Supported by Digital Orchard – Judged by Kate Rolfe, Digital Orchard)

Prize: Grading + mentoring packages from Digital Orchard

  • BREATH (Aneta Siurnicka, 2019, Poland) questions whether breath is a moment of respite or agitation. Should we let the mind be free or fight with our thoughts? (also nominated for Best International Film)
  • CRISPY LOVE-LINE (Stefania Bodescu, 2020, UK) – see Best New Talent section
  • A micro magic show is created from home to bring joy during the COVID-19 lockdown in EDIE + ELIN'S MAGIC SHOW (Edie Morris, 2020, UK)
  • FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE (Caleb J. Roberts, 2020, UK) is a moving depiction of the daily social struggles which dominate the life of a young, transgender man
  • MIND(FULL) (Tilly Wallace, 2019, UK) is an experimental pastel-animated short which explores how meditation can take the mind from a state of chaos to calmness
  • THE TALE OF EDGAR HARE (Hannah Miller, Abigail Lindon, Hana Bhatti, UK, 2020) – see Best Animation section


Best International Film + Special Mention (Supported by London School of English – Judged by Timothy Blake, London School of English)

Prize: £1,000 (Best International Film) / £750 (Special Mention)

  • BREATH (Aneta Siurnicka, 2019, Poland) – see Best Micro Short section
  • DAMN HOBO! (Luis Gerardo LoGar, 2020, Mexico) – see Best Director section
  • DOUBLE HAPPINESS (Scarlett Li, 2020, China, USA) – see Best Film section
  • A young mother struggles to cope with losing custody of her baby girl in HEARTBREAKER (Aidan Cheeatow, 2020, Canada)
  • INSTRUCTIONS TO LET GO (Gustavo Gamero, 2019, Mexico) – see Best Director section
  • LIFE IS A HIGHWAY (Neelakshi Yadav, 2020, India) – see Best Documentary section
  • MARGINAL: SHORT VERSION (Kota Nakamura, 2020, Japan) is an experimental film featuring young actors as they rehearse for a film about a deteriorating relationship, starring real-life ex-lovers
  • THE QUIET (Radheya Jegatheva, 2019, Australia) – see Best Animation section
  • THE ROSE OF MANILA (Alex Westfall, 2020, Philippines, USA) – see Best Director section
  • An otherworldly place is inhibited by strange creatures and the products of what humans discard in WASTOPIA (Qianhui Yu, 2020, China)


Best Writer (Supported by Chapman Charitable Trust – Judged by Mike Williams, Editor Sight & Sound)

Prize: £1,000

  • DAMN HOBO! (Luis Gerardo LoGar, 2020, Mexico) – see Best Director section
  • DOUBLE HAPPINESS (Scarlett Li, 2020, China, USA) – see Best Film section
  • HEARTTHROB (Chloe Law, 2020, UK) – see Best New Talent section
  • When the future rocks up at your front door and punches you in the face, there's only one thing to do – experience THE MASSIVE F*CKING BENDER (Laura Marcus, 2020, UK)
  • MEOW OR NEVER (Neeraja Raj, 2020, UK) – see Best Film section
  • In SKELETONS (Will Peppercorn, 2019, UK), a young man goes to collect his grandfather on the morning of his own father's funeral


  • A first-time sex worker and a first-time client have a unique encounter in ALMOST BLUE (Oscar Simmons, 2020, UK)
  • A ballet teacher's fears start manifesting in dreams and reality after being followed on her way home from work in AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD (Hannah Schierbeek, 2020, USA) – to cope, she confides in her neighbour
  • A young queer couple in love explore their gender expression on an average day in DUNGAREES (Abel Rubinstein, 2020, UK)
  • EYELASH (Jesse Lewis Reece, 2020, UK) is a moving adaptation of spoken word poet Neil Hilborn's beloved poem "OCD"
  • While preparing for a party in a cramped bathroom, Mercedes navigates her blossoming desires in GIRLS & THE PARTY (Paloma López, 2020, USA)
  • In short animated comedy GIRLS’ NIGHT (Ismay Bickerton, 2020, UK), four girls prepare for a night out, touching on vital topics like moustache politics and Yoga with Adrienne
  • In HARD AS NAILS (Tomos James, 2019, UK), set in small-town North Wales, 18-year-old Dewi, armed with a fresh coat of nail varnish, arrives at rugby training only to be met with resistance from his team
  • Over the span of a single night, the difference between online and real life relationships is revealed through a complex connection between two people in HOVERING BETWEEN US (Miles Blacket, 2019, UK)
  • IN THE GARDEN (India-Inés Levy, 2019, UK) offers a glimpse into the last day of summer for Frederick and Clementine, two young aristocrats, who talk beneath an old oak tree
  • In PRINCESS (Edem Kelman, 2020, UK) a troubled mother takes her daughter out for the day; unable to financially provide for her princess, she resorts to petty theft
  • As the titular Chinese boy in SUNNY (Sky Yang, Benjamin Bainbridge, 2020, UK) moves from childhood to adolescence, he finds himself lost in a world that tells him he should hate where he comes from
  • Traumatised by the violent videos he views each day, a content moderator is forced to hide his deteriorating psyche from a company-appointed counsellor in THE MODERATOR (Elliot Gaynon, 2020, UK)



Elizabeth Karlsen is an internationally renowned, award-winning producer, who co-founded the leading independent UK based production company Number 9 Films in 2002 with partner Stephen Woolley. In February 2019, Elizabeth and Stephen jointly received the highly prestigious and coveted BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. She has produced some of the most celebrated independent films in the US and Europe including: Todd Haynes’s CAROL (nominated for 6 Academy Awards®, 6 Golden Globe Awards and 9 BAFTA Awards) Mark Herman’s LITTLE VOICE (winner of a Golden Globe Award, nominated for 1 Academy Award®, 6 Golden Globe Awards and 6 BAFTA Awards) Neil Jordan’s  THE CRYING GAME (winner of an Academy Award®, a BAFTA Award and nominated for 6 Academy Awards®), MADE IN DAGENHAM (nominated for 3 BAFTA Awards) and Phyllis Nagy’s MRS HARRIS (nominated for 12 Emmy® Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards and a PGA Award) and Wash Westmoreland’s COLETTE (Nominated for 4 BIFA’s and an Independent Spirit Award). Other work includes: ON CHESIL BEACH, written by Ian McEwan and directed by Dominic Cooke and Paolo Sorrentino’s YOUTH (nominated for 1 Academy Award® and winner of 3 European Film Awards). Her work with Stephen Woolley has garnered a total of 52 BAFTA nominations and wins and 20 Academy Award® nominations and wins. Elizabeth is currently in post-production on her latest feature MOTHERING SUNDAY written by Alice Birch and directed by Eva Husson, starring Odessa Young, Josh O’Connor, Sope Dirisu, Colin Firth and Olivia Colman.



Reggie Yates is an award winning writer, director, broadcaster and documentary maker. Reggie Yates’ career has seen him move from fronting children's programming, to national radio, to hosting hit Saturday night show The Voice, to become an RTS award-winning documentary maker to making feature films and dramas. In the last five years, Reggie has become synonymous with critically acclaimed documentaries which have aired on BBC and Netflix, including Extreme Russia, for which Reggie was awarded Best Presenter for the Royal Television Society Awards, Best Factual Programme at the Edinburgh TV Festival, and Best Multi-Channel Programme at the Broadcast Awards. In 2020 Reggie begun shooting his first feature-length film, Pirates, which has been funded by BBC Films and the BFI and he has had his debut as a writer on BBC Three with the critically acclaimed Make Me Famous. Reggie has also recently launched a youth initiative called Pass The Mic which aims to provide the education, network, and support needed to help underprivileged creatives and give them a pathway into the film and television industry.



Featured as one of BAFTA’s breakthrough Brits in 2016 and one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ in 2013, British actor Malachi Kirby has since established himself as a versatile actor with a range of roles across television, film, and theatre.  He has recently wrapped on feature film BOILING POINT starring alongside Stephen Graham and also a leading role in Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated BBC/Amazon series SMALL AXE. Malachi was seen playing a lead role in action series CURFEW produced by Tiger Aspect. Curfew is an exhilarating new street race drama, which see’s Malachi lead an ensemble cast including Sean Bean, Billy Zane, and Phoebe Fox. The eight-part series was shown on Sky One and Now TV in the UK this year. He is soon to be seen in TV series DEVILS which focuses on a worldwide financial conspiracy that is discovered by a group of traders of a large investment bank. The story is based on the novel by Guido Maria Brera and also stars Patrick Dempsey, Alessandro Borghi and Laia Costa. The show will be released next year.

Malachi played the lead, ‘Kunta Kinte’ in the remake of ROOTS, starring opposite Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin. He received rave reviews for his role, with Indiewire calling him ‘magnetic’ and The Telegraph saying ‘Brit Actor Malachi Kirby is exceptional in this powerful remake.’ The historical series is an adaptation of Alex Haley’s book of the same name, chronicling the history of a young boy from The Gambia sold into slavery in America. The mini-series premiered on History, A&E and Lifetime in the US. Other television credits include a leading role in season three of Charlie Brooker’s BLACK MIRROR in the episode MEN AGAINST FIRE. Malachi played ‘Stripe’, a soldier in the near future whose duty is to protect frightened villagers from an infestation of vicious feral mutants.

He was also seen in BBC Three’s critically acclaimed MY MURDER opposite John Boyega; the television film recounted the true story of Shakilus Townsend, a 16 year old boy who was led to his death by who he believed was his girlfriend, in what became known as the ‘honey trap’ killing. He has also appeared in hugely popular series’ DR. WHO, JEKYLL & HYDE and SILENT WITNESS. Malachi was nominated for ‘Outstanding Newcomer’ at the Evening Standard Theatre awards in 2011 for his role in MOGADISHU at the Lyric Theatre. The play was positively received by critics and audiences alike. He also recently appeared in The Donmar’s hugely popular BELLEVILLE alongside James Norton and Imogen Poots.

Past film credits include, MY BROTHER THE DEVIL which won the cinematography award at Sundance, the European Cinema award at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. He also starred in Ron Scalpello’s OFFENDER in which he played ‘Harry’ opposite Joe Cole. He’s also appeared in heart-warming comedy, DOUGH, and short films EXHALE and CHECKPOINT.



Daisy trained with National Youth Theatre before landing her first role at the age of 17 as a series regular in the British Comedy-Drama COLD FEET alongside James Nesbitt for ITV. In 2019, she shot an independent coming-of-age feature film POND LIFE which was directed by Bill Buckhurst. Most recently, Daisy was seen playing the lead role of Marianne in the adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel NORMAL PEOPLE, directed by Lenny Abrahamson. The series was met with critical acclaim as was Daisy’s performance, which earned her IMDb’s Breakthrough STARMeter Award, a Madame Figaro Rising Star Award, a Rose d'Or Emerging Talent Award - making Daisy the first-ever winner of this award - as well as being named as one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ for 2020 and being picked by The Hollywood Reporter for their Next Gen 2020 list. In February of 2020 Daisy appeared as Zara in Mike Barlett’s ALBION, at the Almeida Theatre. Daisy is soon to start filming her lead role in Legendary's upcoming feature film FRESH directed by Mimi Cave and has recently been announced to star in the film adaption of Delia Owens’ novel WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, as the titular role of Kya.



In 2009, 18-year-old Waad al-Kateab moved to Aleppo to study marketing at the University of Aleppo. In 2011, when protests against the Assad regime swept the country, Waad taught herself how to film and became a citizen journalist, determined to document the horrors of the war. During this time, Waad began reporting for Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom. The reports she made for Channel 4 News on the conflict in Syria, and the most complex humanitarian crisis in the world, became the most watched pieces on the UK news programme – and received almost half a billion views online and won 24 awards – including the 2016 International Emmy for breaking news coverage.

Waad documented her whole life over five years in Aleppo, as she fell in love with Hamza – a doctor – and gave birth to their first daughter, Sama ("Sky") in 2015. This footage became the basis of the feature documentary released in 2019, For Sama. Directed together with Edward Watts, For Sama won the Prix L'Œil d'or for best documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival (receiving a six-minute standing ovation), Best Documentary at the BAFTAs and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2020 Academy Awards. Waad has also received several personal recognitions for her work as an activist and filmmaker, including the IDA Courage Under Fire Award, a Special Recognition for Courage in Filmmaking at DOC NYC Festival and a place in the 2020 Time100 List of Most Influential People.

After fleeing Aleppo in December 2016, Waad, her husband, and their two daughters now reside in London, United Kingdom. Waad currently continues to work with Channel 4, is a mentor to female journalists and dedicates time to her advocacy campaign, Action For Sama. The campaign, launched in 2019, focuses on utilising FOR SAMA as a unique educational tool to build more empathetic responses to the situation in Syria and end impunity for the war crimes committed there. Action For Sama campaign’s ultimate aim is the pursuit of accountability for the perpetrators of war crimes in Syria as conducted through the targeting of civilians and hospitals. and dedicates time to her advocacy campaign, Action For Sama, which focuses on raising awareness about the situation in Syria and Syrian Refugees and seeks accountability for the war crimes committed by the Syrian and Russian regimes.


About the BFI
The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a cultural charity that:

  • Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of World Cinema for audiences; in cinemas, at festivals and online
  • Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world
  • Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers
  • Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationally

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter.

About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, colour correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

About Netflix
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