Netflix announces recipients of inaugural UK Documentary Talent Fund

May 27, 2021
Ngaio Anyia and Aodh Breathnach

Netflix has announced the cohort of ten aspiring filmmaking teams from across the UK that it will fund as part of its inaugural Documentary Talent Fund.

The ten filmmakers will receive up to £40,000 in financing to create their own documentary short film between 8-12 minutes long, answering the brief: ‘Britain’s Not Boring And Here’s a Story.’ 

A shortlist of 21 filmmaking teams were invited to pitch to Netflix on Friday 21st May. After extensive and thoughtful deliberation, the winning teams were selected by a judging panel comprised of leading industry professionals, including: Akua Agyemfra (cultural strategist, bea.London / #Merky), Jamal Edwards MBE (entrepreneur, founder & CEO of SB.TV), Joanna Natasegara (producer, director & founder of Academy Award-winning production company, Violet Films), Jonny Taylor (original documentaries commissioning at Netflix), Kate Townsend (director of original documentaries commissioning at Netflix), Kirsten Johnson (Award-winning director, cinematographer & cameraperson), Lindsey Dryden (Emmy-winning producer, director & founder of Little By Little Films), and Shanida Scotland (head of film at Doc Society).

The documentary short ideas were chosen for fulfilling the brief, and for their creativity and vision. The ten films encompass a variety of ideas that shine a light on a unique perspective on British life, culture, and experience. They explore compelling topics of identity, community, self-belief, empowerment, disability, gender diversity, and inclusion, with the wider aim of elevating under-represented stories and voices.  

The winners incorporate a range of filmmaking experiences from locations across the UK – including filmmakers from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Manchester, London, Bristol, Gloucestershire, and Liverpool. From a filmmaker previously unable to secure funding for their examination into a profoundly queer school year in the West Country; to fish merchants and a very hungry seal at Billinsgate Market; to a first-time director that has recently abandoned the corporate world to pursue a career in filmmaking – all of the films will provide a remarkable insight into why Britain is not boring. 

Below is the full list of recipients of the 2021 Netflix Documentary Talent Fund (in alphabetical order):

  • Beya Kabelu, The Detective & The Thief – Every hour a dog in Britain is stolen. We’ll follow the hunt for the missing pets; from the detective tasked with finding them to loved ones left distraught
  • Daisy Ifama, Twinkleberry – Twinkleberry is a lighthearted documentary about my super gay school year that had 30+ queer students in one year group… in the middle of the West Country…  during 2005 to 2012
  • Dhivya Kate Chetty, Bee Whisperer – Bee Whisperer is a tale of conservation, community and solidarity through one man and his bees
  • Jakob Lancaster & Sorcha Bacon, Seal In The City – The only thing stopping London’s oldest fish market from being redeveloped into luxury flats is a seal, who has shown up there for breakfast every day for 15 years
  • Jason Osborne & Precious Mahaga, Love Languages – Five black men debunk myths and stereotypes of black masculinity by having revealing, humorous and vulnerable conversations about their own personal love language set within the comfort of their safe space, an Afro-Caribbean barbershop
  • Ngaio Anyia & Aodh Breathnach, Tegan – A young black woman with cerebral palsy is how the world categorises Tegan Vincent Cook – what we discover is her talent and drive as an equestrian, matched with unbridled dedication to reach the 2024 Olympics
  • Sean Mullan & Michael Barwise, HYFIN – Jordan-Lee Brady-James aka HYFIN, a young Derry-Londonderry man in-between places, is told that a Northern Irish accent can’t rap
  • Shiva Raichandani & Shane ShayShay Konno, Peach Paradise – Non-binary Japanese-Irish drag artist storms U.K.’s cabaret scene with a gender-diverse, Pan-Asian collective of bitten peaches, to dismantle racial stereotypes with love and glitter!
  • Tavie Tiffany Agama, Women Of The Market – Introducing the markets of London and the entrepreneurial women that operate within them; trading, chattering, flattering and most importantly earning. These are the Women of the Market
  • Tobi Kyeremateng & Tania Nwachukwu, ÓWÀMBÈ – An intergenerational docu-fiction film on ÓWÀMBÈ in Britain – the life and soul of Nigerian party culture

Townsend commented: “We’re delighted to be announcing the recipients of our first ever Documentary Talent Fund. We were so impressed with the richness of applications received and the originality demonstrated across the board, and want to extend our congratulations to this year’s deserved winning teams. It’s such an exciting glimpse into the future talent of UK documentarians and we look forward to collaborating together to empower each team to fulfil the potential of documentary filmmaking.”

Filmmakers will be supported by a mentorship programme, with Netflix and WDW Entertainment working closely with the teams to ensure they have a strong network of industry figures to guide them throughout the filmmaking process. Each team will also be equipped with COVID-19 guidance to help inform and ensure a safe approach throughout each stage of production. 

The final documentary films will be delivered in January 2022, and will be showcased at a screening event to help advance the filmmakers’ careers. In their finished forms, the films will live on Netflix UK’s social channels, with the potential for further development in the future. Each team will own and retain their own copyright throughout the process.  

Further information can be found here.

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