Film London Microwave is celebrating its busiest and most successful year to date at Cannes with the announcement of three new features being greenlit, whilst Ben Drew's hotly anticipated feature debut, iLL Manors, premieres to the international market.
This is in addition to two Microwave films being theatrically released in the UK this summer, with a third premiering at a major UK film festival.
The three new Microwave films selected from almost 100 applications are: Kingsland, written and directed by Tony Grisoni, screenwriter of the acclaimed Red Riding trilogy, set in the Kurdish community in North London; Lilting, an uplifting tale written and directed by Hong Khaou and produced by Dominic Buchanan which explores falling in love without a common language; and Seekers, a thriller set in the world of London's illegal immigrant underclass, written by Arinze Kene (star of Microwave's Freestyle), directed by Nicole Volavka and produced by Rob Watson.
Hong Khaou, writer/director of Lilting, said: "Microwave has proven to be a rigorous and rewarding journey. The support I've had through the mentors has been intelligent, insightful and imaginative. I feel very lucky to be here."
Launched in 2006, Microwave is a groundbreaking training-through-production scheme, challenging London-based film-makers to shoot a feature for up to £120,000. Following four days of intensive training at Microschool and a four month development period, Film London is now greenlighting exciting projects from both established industry names and emerging new talent.
Tony Grisoni, writer/director of Kingsland, said of his Microschool experience, "[it] is a short but intensive period where the only agenda is to develop your project. Mentors are experienced, supportive and searching. The debate is passionate. There are many of us in the industry who stand to benefit from processes like this, where fondly held tenets are questioned in a creative and supportive atmosphere."
Microwave has a slate of six completed films and has a 100% success rate in securing UK distribution. Films produced through the scheme so far include the BAFTA-nominated Shifty, award-winning horror Mum & Dad, documentary The British Guide to Showing Off and teen drama Freestyle.
Meanwhile iLL Manors is set to become Microwave's biggest theatrical release to date. Distributed by Revolver Entertainment, it will open on over 200 screens on 6 June, which follows the film's market premiere in Cannes, where sales agent Bankside Films hosted a private industry screening.
Star Riz Ahmed said, "Microwave has combined artistic freedom and nimble film-making with the right kind of support to blinding effect. I have worked on two Microwave films now and they have been two of the most impactful I have done, for both audiences and my career as an actor."
Also this year, Microwave film Strawberry Fields, written and directed by Frances Lea and starring Emun Elliott, Christine Bottomley and Anna Madeley, will be released by Soda Pictures on 6 July. Writer/director Lea said, "for me it's about courage, daring to show your particular perspective. Microwave has celebrated and supported my voice - on a tough tiny budget."
Jules Bishop's Borrowed Time, currently in post production, is selected to premiere at a major UK film festival in the summer, the strength of the scheme looks set to grow.
The successful film-making scheme is delivered by Film London in partnership with BBC Films and with support from Creative Skillset. Film London Chief Executive, Adrian Wootton said, "this is an incredibly exciting year for Microwave, testament to the hard work, creativity and dedication of both the Film London team and our fantastic roll call of experienced mentors. As the scheme continues forward, I'm proud to say Microwave has proved itself as a respected production scheme which achieves results. Crucially it provides film-makers with the training and foundation they need to break into the industry."