The BFI today announced the winners of its inaugural Filmmaker Awards: Celebrating Creative Audacity, hosted in partnership with French fashion house Chanel.

The award, which comes with a £20,000 prize ($22,000), was awarded to four artists working across film and moving image practices: Baff Akoto (Queen of Glory), Kathryn Ferguson (Nothing Compares), Sam Firth (The Wolf Suit), and Erfan Saadati (Child of Empire).

The awards jury was headed by Tilda Swinton who handed out the four prizes at the BFI’s biannual Luminous fundraising gala. She was joined on the jury by British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful, Marie-Louise Khondji, producer and founder of Le Cinéma Club, and BFI CEO Ben Roberts.

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“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,” Swinton said of the awards. “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 four winners were picked from a shortlist of seven filmmakers. A panel of industry experts was asked to nominate 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 that have been released in the UK, or presented works at a leading UK or international film festival.

The BFI and Chanel said the award was created 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.

Yana Peel, Global Head of Arts & Culture at Chanel, added: “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.”

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