Brit Film Council ups coin for helmers

U.K. directors enticed to keep production on the isle

The U.K. Film Council has made a deliberate effort to divert some of its development coin toward directors, investing in new projects from Ken Loach, Carine Adler, Kenny Glenaan and co-helmers Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger, as well as previously announced deals with Terry Gilliam and Stephen Fry.

Loach has reunited with Barry Hines, writer of his 1969 debut “Kes,” to develop “Hoyland Common vs. Italy.” It’s a love story with a political twist, about a young woman in an English mining village during WWII who falls for an Italian POW. Forty years later, during the miners’ strike of the 1980s, she travels to Italy to see the life she could have had.

Carine Adler, who hasn’t made a film since her acclaimed 1997 pic “Under the Skin,” is developing “Balance of Power” with writer Deborah Davies and producer Ceci Dempsey. It’s a political drama set in the 18th century court of Queen Anne.

Hunter and Hunsinger, the writing and directing team whose debut “The Lawless Heart” recently opened to strong reviews in the U.S., are working on “Three Way Split” with their producer Martin Pope. Employing their usual method of workshops rather than conventional script-writing, they are developing this story of a woman who embarks on a road trip across Europe to find her missing son in Croatia.

Scottish director Kenny Glenaan (“Gas Attack”) is developing “Du Canes Boys” with writer Kate Gartside, about two South African boys sent for soccer trials in Holland.

The Film Council’s investment in the development of Gilliam and Tony Grisoni’s “Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem” and Fry’s “The Stars’ Tennis Balls” was previously announced.

“We’re trying to be much more director driven,” says the Film Council’s development chief Jenny Borgars. “We’ve done an awful lot of stuff for writers and producers, but we’ve fallen into that British trap of bringing directors on late in the game.

“All of these directors are bold in their story-telling,” she adds. “If we do not engage with voices that are going to speak loud and force you to listen, then we’re not doing our job.”

She also hopes that by giving development coin to projects that have established directors involved from the start, it will help to keep them working in Britain on a more regular basis.

“The worry for us is that unless we find them something, they will either sit in limbo for three years or jump straight to the studios, who do have the money and appetite to develop projects with them.”

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