Tilda Swinton announces winners of BFI and Chanel filmmaker awards


Baff Akoto, artist/director (producer of Queen of Glory)
• Kathryn Ferguson, director/co-writer (Nothing Compares)
• Sam Firth, director/producer (The Wolf Suit)
• Erfan Saadati, director/producer (Child of Empire)

Presented at Luminous, the BFI’s Fundraising Gala

Tilda Swinton joined by her fellow Filmmaker Awards jurors:
Edward Enninful OBE, Marie-Louise Khondji and Ben Robert

Oscar®-winning actor, BFI Fellow and Global CHANEL Ambassador Tilda Swinton recently presented awards to the four winners of the new BFI & CHANEL Filmmaker Awards: Celebrating Creative Audacity at LUMINOUS, the BFI’s biannual fundraising gala.

As Chair of the Awards jury, she presented four exciting and emerging UK film creatives – selected for their creative audacity, and their ambition to explore a new dynamic to their practice – with a prize of £20,000 each.

Swinton presented the filmmakers with the award in front of a host of UK industry stars and luminaries, there to celebrate the BFI’s transformative education work and raise vital funds to enable more young people across the UK to access the BFI’s support to find their way into a career in film. A further announcement about the event, along with downloadable photography of the winners and an array of guests attending, will be available tonight to media.

Tilda Swinton Chaired the 2022 BFI & CHANEL Filmmaker Awards jury, alongside Edward Enninful OBE, British Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Marie-Louise Khondji, producer and founder of Le Cinéma Club, and BFI CEO Ben Roberts.

Tilda Swinton, said: “We’ve selected four remarkable filmmakers, each of them very different in their approaches and their disciplines, but all properly worthy winners. This award from the BFI and CHANEL sets out to support early career creatives, to help them reach their fullest potential by giving them the freedom to invest in their artistry to develop their individual voice and create work that inspires, challenges and nourishes. The choices we had to make were not easy, but we are so proud of our inaugural winners – they are certainly audacious and singular to a degree and we are fully confident that they will make the most of the grace, emancipation and confidence this award will afford them to create a safe space to focus on their work and on their evolution as original artists.”

The BFI & CHANEL Filmmaker Awards 2022 jury said of each winner:

Baff Akoto, artist/director (eligible as producer of Queen of Glory)
“A compelling multi-disciplinary artist, Baff’s work as a producer on the fantastic transatlantic and trans-cultural collaboration that is Queen of Glory particularly impressed us. Supporting an emerging producer, and one who shows this level of potential, is exactly who this award must be for. We hope it enables him to bring more authentic and expansive stories to the screen, and confirms that creatives who can occupy multiple roles are an important part of this industry and its future, and no longer on the outside.”

Kathryn Ferguson, director/writer (eligible as director/co-writer of Nothing Compares)
“With a great collection of boundary-pushing documentary shorts under her belt, we loved Kathryn’s debut feature, Nothing Compares. A beautiful portrait of a feminist, and an important story that speaks to the damage inflicted when the media target outspoken women, we also got a real sense of Kathryn’s assured filmmaking style and her ability to craft and construct a powerful and deeply moving story. We hope this award allows her to stay true to her creativity and subjects that ignite her passion.”

Sam Firth, director/producer (eligible as director/producer of The Wolf Suit)
“Sam is a brave artist, who, with The Wolf Suit, created and shared an exposing and wonderful film. Through her body of work, we found Sam to be doing something completely mysterious – producing work that is consistently extraordinary and very personal, yet all very different. She invests in the process, as much as she invests in the final product. This is not a filmmaker who fits neatly into a box or can easily be defined, and therefore may find it hard to secure the funding and support. She was a clear choice for this award, because we wanted to support and nurture her pure creative audacity.”

Erfan Saadati, director/producer (eligible as director/producer of Child of Empire)
“Erfan demonstrates a real commitment to immersive work, and is someone who is constantly seeking to drive the form forward, to disrupt and invent. While his work was authoritative and confident in its quietness, we felt his ambition was boundless. We not only wanted to support Erfan so he can continue to experiment, but also because he is clearly committed to telling important and authentic stories, that are little seen in the XR space or elsewhere for that matter.”

The Awards will provide the winning filmmakers with the financial and creative freedom to expand their craft, develop future projects, gain further skills, explore new ideas, and can also be used to support a residency or entry to a creative programme. The jury’s decision and their deliberation covered the filmmaker’s body of work and the strength of their application, and each nominee had to have a work on release and/or showcased between 1 January 2021-30 June 2022 to be eligible.

Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI, said: “Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI, said: “Joining Tilda, Edward and Marie-Louise on the jury was an honour, but it was reviewing and discussing the filmmakers and their work which was really thrilling. The shortlist showcased an exciting range of diversity and inventiveness in approaches to storytelling, and I want to thank CHANEL for their committed partnership and enabling this fantastic opportunity to these very worthy winners.”

Yana Peel, Global Head of Arts & Culture at CHANEL, said: “Tonight, we witnessed the BFI’s distinctive energy as we gathered to celebrate the winners of the inaugural BFI and CHANEL Filmmaker Awards, which recognise the new and the next in UK cinema, honour creative audacity and support bold ambitions in filmmaking. CHANEL has had an ongoing dialogue with cinema throughout history, and with initiatives like these, the House extends its longstanding commitment to the artists and ideas that drive culture forward.”

The Awards were created by the BFI and CHANEL to celebrate and champion underrepresented voices, with at least one of the Awards committed to a filmmaker identifying as female/non-binary. All projects that rendered the filmmaker eligible had to meet the BFI Diversity Standards.

The shortlist of seven filmmakers was arrived at through a process of collaboration and consultation with experienced professionals from across the sector. A panel of industry experts each nominated filmmakers, who were then invited to apply for the Awards. Producers, writers, directors, or writer/directors were eligible if they were UK residents, had made one or two features or XR/immersive works which have been released in the UK or presented at a leading UK or international film festival.

Email AlertPlease enter your email address if you would like to receive alerts from Screen Innovation on new stories