Nadia Fall Headshot Brides

NEON FILMS “Brides”, Nadia Fall Named as Breaking Through The Lens finalist for €10,000 feature film grant

Breaking Through The Lens (BTTL), a US-based non-profit that advocates for a more equitable film industry, has named the five finalists for their Chopard x BTTL Action Grant, which gives feature film directors of marginalised genders the chance at winning €10,000 towards a project.

The finalists include Screen Star of Tomorrow 2023 Nadia Fall, who is seeking support for her feature debut, Brides. The UK-Italy co-production follows two teenage girls in search of freedom, friendship and meaning, run away from their troubled lives in an English seaside town in order to join Isis in Syria. It is produced by Nicky Bentham of Neon Films, and is due to start shooting in the autumn, with backing from the BFI and national and regional Italian film funds.

Fall is joined as a finalist by Toronto-based Gabriela Osio Vanden, whose documentary Bear Season is a Canada-US-UK co-production, following a polar bear migration as a mother with cubs and a lone juvenile male are forced to navigate two very different towns in the Canadian Arctic, highlighting the towns’ deep social inequities and cultural differences.

Maya Bastian, a Canadian filmmaker of Tamil heritage, has entered with thriller The Devil’s Tears, an India-Canada co-production. A disillusioned young man must find a way to revive his splintered community, in a jungle village recovering form war.

Canadian Tricia Lee’s US comedy drama Good Chance follows a transgender teen who helps a church-going, undocumented Asian woman escape deportation.

Malpelo, from Colombian writer-director Victoria Rivera, is a drama thriller about a free diver who travels to Malpelo Island to investigate the disappearance of hammerhead sharks, where she finds herself under threat from the all-male crew on her fishing boat. It is a co-production between Colombia, Dominican Republic and the USA.

The winner will be announced this October at a special event in London.

More than 200 submissions were received following the launch of the grant at Cannes, in collaboration with jewellery brand Chopard. Jurors include Chopard’s president Caroline Scheufele; chair of Bafta’s British Short Film category Rita Osei; South Indian actor and activist Shruti Haasan; UK producer Shantelle Rochester; and director of the Sundance horror Birth/Rebirth, Laura Moss.

“We were truly overwhelmed by the quality level across the board,” said Daphne Schmon, BTTL founder. “Ultimately we focused on projects that demonstrated an exceptional artistic vision and the most meaningful use of grant funding. As a director myself, I appreciate how valuable early-stage support can be in moving a project forward.”

“Providing that initial momentum or that final push for an underrepresented filmmaker with an independent vision is crucial,” added jury member Moss. “We say we want equity in cinema, but it takes critically recognised, truly independent institutions like Breaking Through The Lens to help counter the overwhelming biases in our industry.”