The BFI Awards of 2019: Kate Winslet & Saoirse Ronan Romance ‘Ammonite’ Tops Pile

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LONDON

Ammonite, the period romance pic starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan from God’s Own Country filmmaker Francis Lee, received the highest individual production award from the British Film Institute’s Film Fund this year.

The pic from The King’s Speech outfit See-Saw Films was awarded $1.74m (£1.3m) in production finance. It tells the story of Mary Anning, an infamous fossil hunter who develops an intense relationship with a young woman after being sent to convalesce by the sea, and was shot on location in West Dorset in spring this year.

The pic was absent from the Sundance list, where Lee’s God’s Own Country debuted to acclaim, likely because it wasn’t ready in time, though it’s expected to pop up at a significant festival this year. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Lionsgate and Transmission have all boarded distribution in key markets.

Second on the list is Ali & Ava, an under-the-radar project directed by Clio Barnard, whose past projects include Dark River, The Selfish Giant, and The Arbor. The film has never officially been announced but we understand it shot in Bradford in autumn and the cast includes Natalie Gavin, who appeared in both The Arbor and The Selfish Giant, and more recently Line Of Duty. It is produced by Barnard’s regular producer, Tracy O’Riordan. Third is Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir: Part II, the follow-up to her critical hit The Souvenir, which debuted at Sundance this year and was bought for the U.S. by A24; the disturb also boarded the second film.

The film is produced by Element Pictures and JWH Films and backed by the BFI and BBC Films. The first half stars Honor Swinton Byrne as a film student who falls for an untrustworthy man (Tom Burke).

The remaining films on the list include Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, and several feature directing debuts in the shape of Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond), Surge (Aneil Karia), The Power (Corinna Faith), and After Love (Aleem Khan).

On the distribution side, Altitude benefited from the biggest overall award, receiving a combined $326,000 (£250,000) towards the releases of Mid90s and Beats.

The biggest individual film award went to Entertainment One for Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You, which the BFI also funded in production. The pic received a $196,000 (£150,408) grant and grossed $1.7m in the UK.

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