As part of the BFI London Film Festival 2019, NETWORK invited 12 bright, emerging filmmakers to take part in our flagship festival initiative. Here’s how it went…

14 October 2019

After a vastly successful five-year initiative, NETWORK returned once more to the capital with a new band of writers, producers and directors for four days of filmmaker talks, industry sessions and a little red carpet glamour to boot. Our theme this year was international ambition, matching our cohort of global storytellers with equally minded speakers and films present at the BFI London Film Festival. 

Day One: Working it

Never ones to ease into a programme, we kicked off NETWORK@LFF 2019 with the challenging yet vastly accomplished feature debut Workforce from Mexican filmmaker David Zonana ahead of his talk with us later that day. A warm and candid early filmmaker whose film is a steady account of Mexican construction workers struggling to make ends meet, David was the perfect guest to set the tone for our programme, and spoke about the importance of nuance, and how sometimes things can be better left off screen when tackling difficult or delicate themes.

Next, we were blown away by the sensitively handled yet boldly framed 37 Seconds, the directorial debut from HIKARI that charts the sexual awakening of a young woman with cerebral palsy against the neon lights of Tokyo.

Later in the day, Calm with Horses producer Daniel Emmerson swung by to dissect the process of getting an Irish-set, first time feature with some serious home grown talent at its core out into the wider world.

Day Two: Of bodies and budgets

HIKARI’s 37 Seconds is headed to Netflix in due course, but for NETWORK@LFF we got to treat our filmmakers to a big-screen rendition before the director swept in and somehow managed to make serious subjects about differently-abled representation and marginalised filmmakers into a hilarious yet poignant conversation. We can’t wait to see her upcoming slate (plus the selfie that she took of us)!

A hearty distribution discussion with leading representatives from Protagonist, Pathé and Altitude followed, which provided our filmmakers with prized intel on how to market their films to international markets.

We also squeezed in a bumper marathon of four film screenings, including a venture out to Leicester Square for the star-studded UK premieres of Jojo Rabbit and The Lighthouse. Spill yer beans…

Day Three: Oh, the horror

We went hard with our programme of filmmakers on day three of our initiative, with Robert Eggers, Babak Anvari and the team behind spellbinding French animation I Lost My Body dropping in for a visit. The latter, who came in the form of director Jérémy Clapin, producer Marc du Pontavice and the author of the source material Guillaume Laurant, shared valuable insights into the world of independent animation, and selling the unconventional concept of a severed hand on a mission back to its body. 

Babak Anvari spoke about Wounds, his eerie horror for which he scored a dream cast including Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson, although he readily admits polarised audiences.

Finally, Robert Eggers, whose stylish psychological nightmare The Lighthouse stunned audiences on the festival circuit, visited us for an inspiring, rousing seminar that included advice on how to convince financers to build a lighthouse from scratch and his actors to endure a rigorous shoot in the name of art.

Day Four: First features and final words

Saint Maud has stirred up quite a frenzy at festivals and catapulted director Rose Glass firmly into the spotlight, so we were thrilled that she could join us for a deep dive into her exciting new career. Next, Brazilian filmmaker Alejandro Landes stopped by to discuss his Oscar-longlisted masterpiece Monos, a Lord of the Flies-type battle against the elements that involved a boot camp-style filming process. 

Representatives from Film4, the BBC and the BFI gave our cohort a funding panel to remember with some prime advice on feature development. Then before we knew it our cohort were whisked into the final event of the programme, our 1-2-1 sessions that sit each participant down with relevant, leading industry folk to talk about what comes next for their careers. 

It was a whirlwind four days, but through the wisdom imparted from our guests and the wonders presented on screen, we hope that NETWORK@LFF 2019 will inspire a future wave of filmmakers whose work will transcend borders and tell stories that resonate with the world.