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Image of Balcony London Calling Plus short film

Balcony wins Crystal Bear at Berlinale

Date posted: 23.02.2016

We are pleased to congratulate the filmmaking team behind Balcony, who picked up a coveted Crystal Bear for their London Calling Plus short film in the Generation 14plus section at the Berlin Film Festival last week.

Balcony was written and directed by Toby Fell-Holden, and produced by Tom Kimberley and Ali Mansuri. The film tracks a burgeoning friendship between a local girl from a neighborhood rife with racial tension, and a recent immigrant who is a target for prejudice.

The film went through our London Calling scheme last year, and was awarded with the London Calling Plus award for Best Short Film. It premiered at the BFI London Film Festival and went on to receive a BIFA nomination for Best British Short Film, win Best International Short Film at Flickerfest, and the Crystal Bear for Best Short Film in the Generation 14plus section at Berlinale.

The Berlinale Generation jury said: "In an ostensibly classic tale of a friendship between two girls who come from different cultures, this film succeeds in astounding the viewer through its sophisticated dramaturgy. The story holds a mirror up to a society still plagued by persistent clichés, a mirror that in the end also forces the audience to face their own prejudices. Provocative and full of strong imagery, this production also manages at the same time to make our current challenges clear."

We asked writer director Toby Fell-Holden about the festival, and how going through the London Calling Plus scheme helped the film to develop.

How was Berlinale for you? What did you hope to get out of the festival?

We had a great time; the festival is huge, drawing in a very diverse range of talented filmmakers and industry figures. We were able to meet various sales companies interested in Balcony, and formed new friendships with directors, writers and producers from all over the world. 

How did it feel to win a Crystal Bear for Balcony?

It was a genuine surprise as we thought they'd called all the awards! It was exhilarating to approach the stage and realize that all those months of preparation, the demanding production and edit, all those late nights had got us to this point where people were responding strongly - to receive recognition from such a festival means a lot to us. It helps inspire us to keep working harder and that we can do this. 

How would you say London Calling Plus helped you hone your film? Did it make you approach anything differently?

Going through London Calling Plus really helped me hone the script to communicate the themes as best we could and do justice to the ambition of the story. We were given some invaluable advice on modulating the dark story with some lighter moments, which I'm now so grateful to have explored as you really feel the highs and lows of the film when sitting with an audience. 

What were the most valuable lessons you learned through London Calling Plus?

That if you have an idea you believe in with enough conviction, that you can will it into existence and inspire a team to see through what previously seemed near impossible.

This project could not have happened without the support of London Calling Plus. Not just in a financial sense, but also in the legitimacy the project gained by its participation in the scheme, which lifted the calibre of talent we were able to hire and reach out to.

Going through the process of pitching the idea helped us think more clearly about the story, tone, message and style of the film with a greater depth than before, which made it easier to communicate our intentions with our creative collaborators and also enabled us to convincingly pitch others to support the project. 

Where next for Balcony? Where do you want to see the film go, and what are your future filmmaking plans?

To win at Berlin and Flickerfest, along with the BIFA nomination, has already wildly exceeded our expectations, so anything more at this point is a fortunate bonus.

That said, we are really excited to see how the film is received in North America, with our premiere around the corner. We hope that the film can be widely seen, especially in Europe and America where issues of immigration and divisive politics are very much in the spotlight. 

We are now very busy developing several feature film scripts that we hope to put through the UK funding schemes, and explore some interest we've received from financiers. 

 

London Calling Plus is a strand for BAME filmmakers, part of the London Calling scheme, offering both funding and training to short filmmakers.

The next round of applications for London Calling will open in September 2016.


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