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Funding and Sage Award 2017 Winners announced at Sheffield Doc/Fest

Winners of the 2017 Whicker’s World Funding Awards were announced at the Sheffield Doc/Fest Awards ceremony on June 13th.

The £80,000 Funding Award, for first-time feature length directors of 35 and under, went to Pailin Wedel, 34, of Bangkok for Hope Frozen, a compassionate film probing the ethics and morality of cryogenics and the meaning of death.

Edinburgh based Duncan Cowles, 26, won  £15,000 for Silent Men, a side-ways look at  masculine response to emotion.

The £5,000 Sage Award to an outstanding newcomer over 50 went to Steven Carne for My NHS, Voices from the Grassroots, a very personal take on the crisis in healthcare, while the £2,000 runner-up prize went to Roy Delaney for his film The Bard’s Wife.

The prizes awarded by Whicker’s World Foundation were announced at the Sheffield Doc/Fest Award Ceremony at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield last night, hosted by BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Paulette Edwards.

Funding Award finalists at the awards ceremony

Whicker’s World Foundation, built on the legacy of celebrated journalist and broadcaster Alan Whicker, has awarded a total of £102k to help support documentary makers.

Founder of the Whicker’s World Foundation, Valerie Kleeman, photographer, programme consultant and Whicker’s partner for more than 40 years, said: “Alan’s wish was that the Foundation should provide a platform for young documentary makers. He would be amazed and delighted by so much of what we have seen. We looked for surprise and originality and have not been disappointed- the sheer variety of entries has been overwhelming, the choices agonising.  The spirit of Whicker’s World is alive and flourishing in the most unexpected and inaccessible places.”

The £80,000 prize for the Funding Award goes to Pailin Wedel from Bangkok for Hope Frozen.

What happens when a Buddhist scientist from Bangkok decides to freeze his daughter’s brain? When laser scientist Sahatorn’s baby daughter tragically dies of cancer, he invests in a dream of the future that one day she will be awoken and given another chance of life. A tale of grief and scientific progress, this is the story of how a 2 year old girl became the youngest human ever to be cryopreserved.

Pailin is a Thai-American video journalist based in Bangkok. She has worked on documentary programs for television including commissioned half-hour episodes for Al Jazeera English’s current events documentary reportage program 101 East. Aside from her television work, she also regularly films pieces for The New York Times, National Geographic, Monocle and the Wall Street Journal. Before diving into the freelance life, she was the Asia Interactive producer for the Associated Press where she directed online visual and interactive coverage for the region.

Liz McIntyre, CEO & Festival Director of Sheffield Doc/Fest said: “We are so proud to be associated with the Whicker’s World Funding Award for the second year. The range and quality of film projects is outstanding and this year’s winner from Thailand and runner-up from Scotland demonstrate that range perfectly. They are exciting projects with huge potential.”

Pailin Wedel, director of Hope Frozen

The runner-up prize of £15,000 goes to Duncan Cowles, 26  from Edinburgh for Silent Men.

Silent Men is a documentary idea from Edinburgh filmmaker Duncan Cowles. A frank and at times humorous look at masculinity and its role in society, Silent Men will investigate the cultural norms and social conditioning that render suicide the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and make men three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent. Shot entirely in the UK, the filmmaker will travel across the country interviewing men young and old in an attempt to get to heart of why some of them, including the filmmaker himself, find it so difficult to open up to their friends and family or to simply say “I Love You.”

Duncan Cowles developed his technical skills during a two year HND in TV Production at Edinburgh College. He graduated with a 1st class BA Hons from Edinburgh College of Art, where he developed his voice as a Documentary Director and worked for two years with the Scottish Documentary Institute. His short film Isabella won Best Short Film at the BAFTA Scotland Awards in 2016 and his short documentary Directed by Tweedie premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Duncan Cowles, director of Silent Men

The five finalists pitched their ideas at Sheffield Town Hall on Sunday 11th June to industry judges, including British investigative journalist Seyi Rhodes, CEO of Sheffield Doc/Fest Liz McIntyre, independent filmmaker Mak CK, Jane Ray Artistic Director of Whicker’s World Foundation and TVF Head of Sales Harriet Armston-Clarke. IMG Media Creative Director Richard Klein was instrumental in helping the Foundation compile the shortlist. The winning film will be completed within a year, in time to be shown at Doc/Fest 2018.

WWF Creative director Jane Ray said: “The judges were humbled at the sheer amount of hard work put into each application. The winners all had something original to say, unique engaging characters and were allowing the contributor’s story to emerge in their own words. Duncan Cowles has a Whickeresque ability to draw out the beguiling humour of every situation and Pailin Wedel brought a heartbreaking humanity and subtle poetry to a technology story that is as bizarre as it is engrossing. I am very excited that I’ll be working with two such creative talents over the coming year. Meanwhile our two Sage award winners are the embodiment of the idea that real talent can emerge at any age, and that in the case of Steven Carne and Roy Delaney, maturity has not dampened their passion for getting to the truth through documentary story telling”

Mak CK said: “I was impressed by both the diversity and standard of the projects that were pitched. We had a tougher deliberation process this year and that is extremely encouraging when it comes to the quality of documentary filmmaking from the new generation.”

The Sage Award

‘Retirement’ was not a word in Alan Whicker’s vocabulary. He was 83 when he wrote and presented Whicker’s War, a much-acclaimed account of his army experiences in Italy, for Channel 4. He made his last series for BBC Two, Journey of a Lifetime, in his late eighties. The Sage Award will recognise a TV or audio professional who has come to air with an authored story for the first time, a prize of £5,000 will be awarded annually to an applicant aged 50 plus.

Sage Award winner Steven Carne and runner-up Roy Delaney

The £5,000 winner of the award for first-timers over the age of 50 goes to Steven Carne (54) from St Ives, Cornwall for My NHS: Voices from the Grassroots. MY NHS touches on another massive story of our time as a group of ordinary people attempt to take on the might of the government and save the National Health Service. Through the eyes of a working-class mother from Darlington and founder of 999 Call for the NHS, Joanna Adams, the film reveals the hope, hurt, effort and disappointments members of the public face when they unwittingly step into the political arena. A moving and insightful documentary that keeps the Whicker spirit of inquisitiveness alive.

Whicker’s World Foundation Founder, Valerie Kleeman said: “With the Sage Award the Whicker’s World Foundation is giving a voice and a platform to someone with a passion who might otherwise not be heard.  MY NHS is a film made from the heart about people desperate to save an institution that touches all our lives, it is such an important subject, told here in a very personal way. “

Jane Mote felt this was: “A clear story and attempt to get underneath an apolitical group and those people frustrated enough with politics to try to form a grassroots organisation – at great personal cost. The filmmaker really throws the light on the lead character – an ordinary mum who feels so pained by the threat to the NHS that she risks her husband, family and health to stand up for her beliefs.” 

The runner-up prize of £2,000.00 goes to Roy Delaney (52) from Bristol for The Bard’s Wife. Wes White is the Bard of Glastonbury, an honour going back centuries that he won in a poetry battle in the heart of this historic Somerset town. As spring approaches, he must organise the competition to find his successor, but he’s got something else on his mind. Following a piece of government legislation, his American wife Erica was unable to obtain a visa to live in the UK and he must find a job that will earn him the required salary to get her back. This short doc follows Wes as he makes the tough decision – give up the job he fought for or risk losing his wife?

Judge Valerie Kleeman said this mini documentary was: “Sweet and gentle”, with judge Jane Mote adding her admiration: “That a first-time film-maker could get deep inside a world we don’t see often – the bards and Glastonbury scene – this film has an unusual twist on a one of the biggest stories of our time, immigration.”

Judge Jane Ray added: “The judges were deeply impressed with Roy Delaney’s apparently simple but in fact many layered story of how one man has to relinquish the job that he loves, being the Bard of Glastonbury, to recover the woman he loves, the Bard’s Wife, Erica. It is a poignant story of our times showing how a tiny governmental shift on immigration policy can have a cataclysmic effect on the real lives of those struggling to tick the reshaped boxes. The story is told with wit and charm and a visual virtuosity that we found remarkable for any first-ever film maker, but especially perhaps from  one who has been a hard working print journalist all his working life… until now. Respect.”

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