Check out what the 12 trailblazing writers, directors and producers selected for NETWORK@LFF 2021 got up to at this years festival...

17 October 2021
By Ambika Sidhu
BFI NETWORK Coordinator


NETWORK@LFF 2021 focused on filmmakers with strong and distinctive voices who are pushing the boundaries of what audiences have come to expect of UK film.

The 12 talented and ambitious participants, selected from 360 applicants, consisted of Reece Cargan (producer), Jessi Gutch (writer-director-producer), Tina Pasotra (writer-director), Theo James Krekis (writer-director), Rafael Manuel (writer-director), Miles Sloman (writer-producer), Sophie Mair and Dan Gitsham (writer-directors), Alia Ghafar (writer-director), Isaac Tomiczek (writer-director), Eloise King (writer-director) and Savvas Stavrou (writer-director). Collectively they hold expansive experience across film, television, theatre and broader screen.

This year, NETWORK@LFF found its home at The Cinema at Selfridges, where we held a selection of private screenings, filmmaker masterclasses and welcomed industry guests.


Day One:

We kicked off with an early morning screening of White Building, from Cambodian director Kavich Neang, who later joined us over Zoom for a thoughtful and open conversation about his filmmaking process and journey.



Next up was a screening of Andrea Arnold’s Cow, an immersive and visceral documentary following the life of a dairy cow and her calf. Powerful in its simplicity and emotionally charged, Cow provoked ongoing discussion across the four days about the ethics of human relationships with other animals. With the group including both vegans and someone with first-hand experience of beef farming, we had some fascinating conversations and will be excited to see these proliferate when the film gets its UK release from MUBI.

To end our first day we were joined by Jess Loveland (Head of New Writing, BBC), Alice Tyler (Director of Development, Sister) and Runyararo Mapfumo (Director, Sex Education) for our ‘Breaking into TV’ panel. Each brought their expertise and experience to give our cohort stellar advice and guidance on pathways into the industry. The group appreciated Runyararo’s candour in particular, as she broke down how she made the most of on-set experience and how to navigate stepping into roles with major platforms and ongoing series.



Day Two:

NETWORK@LFF day two started off with a focus on film festivals with Sharon Badal (Tribeca) and Qila Gill (LSFF), who delved into the specificities of the selection process for their film festivals, demonstrating their passion for creating richly diverse programmes.



The first screening of the day was The Feast, a Welsh-language horror from Lee Haven Jones, who later joined us for a candid chat about his career and the challenges of creating work for both TV and film.


Later that day, we headed over to BFI Southbank where the cohort were able to introduce their own work to an audience at the ‘LFF for Free’ NETWORK@LFF shorts programme. For many of the cohort, this was the first time they had seen their work on the big screen so it provided a special moment to share with an audience.

In the evening we walked the red carpet for the Titane Special Presentation gala at Royal Festival Hall. An intense body horror follow up to ‘Raw’ from Palme d’Or winning director Julia Ducournau, Titane had us all writhing in our seats, unable to look away.


Day Three:

NETWORK@LFF day three started off with a screening of the explosive DASHCAM, the follow-up to Zoom horror Host from director and producer duo Rob Savage and Douglas Cox. The filmmaking team joined us later that afternoon with a surprise visit from their lead Annie Hardy for a dynamic conversation about the process of making the film during the height of the Covid pandemic, their producer-director relationship and what it’s like to work with a major US production company. DASHCAM was another film that provoked significant discussion among the cohort who grappled with the responsibilities of filmmakers working with difficult content and what it means to intervene in contemporary debates.



We were also joined by the iconic producer Christine Vachon, for a deep dive into her extensive career. This was an incredibly honest and inspiring discussion about breaking down barriers, fighting for stories that you believe in and the practicalities of running major feature films as a producer in 2021.



Later that evening we soaked up more of the festival atmosphere at the LFF New Talent Reception: a wonderful room of filmmakers with work in the festival and international guests providing us all a moment to cherish being back in a room together.


Day Four:

Our final day began with debbie tucker green’s searing film based on her play of the same name ear for eye. Later, debbie joined us for a very special conversation about her career journey and how she was able to stay true to herself while navigating the industry.

Our final masterclass of the programme welcomed Fiona Lamptey, Director of UK Features at Netflix. Fiona treated us to an open discussion about the importance of taking risks within the online streaming business and the landscape for new feature commissions.



The cohort were then given the chance to have 1-2-1 sessions with industry professionals from Film4, BBC Film, Protagonist Pictures, BFI Film Fund, Blueprint Pictures, Curtis Brown, DMC Films and Casarotto for a more personal and in-depth talk about their projects and careers moving forward.


We ended our night with a closing reception, where we were able to celebrate this fantastic time together and reflect on the moments shared and bonds formed over the weekend. As the dust settles and we look ahead, we can’t wait to see what the future will bring for our wonderful 2021 group!