Richard Billingham, writer and director of Ray & Liz, has been awarded the third annual IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI. At £50,000 it is the most significant bursary of its kind in the UK film industry, expressly designed to support the future careers of exceptional British film talent who have a film in Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival. The UK premiere of Ray & Liz takes place at the festival on Wednesday 17 October.
The Bursary Award was presented by leading British director, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Baby Driver) at a star studded gala dinner at London’s Electric Light Station. The gala dinner marked the eve of the opening of the BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express®.
Based in Swansea, Richard Billingham was the first recipient of the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize in 1997. The following year BBC2 broadcast his film Fishtank, produced by Artangel and filmmaker Adam Curtis. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2001 and was nominated for the Turner Prize the same year. His photography work is held in many collections including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, V&A and Tate Galleries, London. He has made work about his immediate family, about animals in zoos around the world and about the British landscape.
Ray & Liz, his first feature film, produced by Jacqui Davies and shot on location in the Midlands where he grew up. It is based on Richard’s memories, focussing on his parents Ray and Liz, their relationship, and its impact on Richard and his younger brother Jason. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, the film unfolds as three episodes which give a powerful evocation of the experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat.
Now in its third year, the Bursary is presented in recognition of outstanding British talent at the beginning of their careers and is designed to support a writer and/or director by providing them with the financial stability and time needed to develop their creativity. The Bursary affords them the freedom to focus on future projects without the pressure of deadlines or the distraction of taking paid work – a precious and extremely rare opportunity for a filmmaker. Previous recipients include writer/directors, Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling) and Daniel Kokotajlo (Apostasy).