Film exploring postpartum depression wins top gongs at BFI Future Film Festival

A selection of young filmmakers were awarded cash prizes and mentoring packages.
A selection of young filmmakers were awarded cash prizes and mentoring packages. A selection of young filmmakers were awarded cash prizes and mentoring packages.

A film exploring the challenges of postpartum depression has been awarded top gongs at the BFI Future Film Festival.

Underbelly, which sees young apprentice butcher Norman launched into adulthood when his older sister has a baby, picked up best film and best new talent for creator Edie Moles at the ceremony, which took place online and in person at BFI Southbank in London on Sunday.

Rising star Moles received £5,000 in total for the two wins as well as a mentoring package.

Underbelly (Edie Moles/PA)

Reflecting on the film, the jury said: “It was clear to us that Underbelly was made with real love for the art of filmmaking, as well as an intense passion for the important message.

“Deeply affecting and engaging, with an impeccable sense of space and character and an exceptional performance by Stephen John McMillan at the centre, every element of the production comes together to make something remarkable.

“This truly is an incredible achievement from a young new talent in Edie Moles, who we cannot wait to see more from.”

Young filmmaker Ade Femzo took home the best director prize for Drop Out, which follows a struggling student who tells his strict African mother that he has dropped out of school and when that does not go well, he goes back in time to try again.

The jury thought the film was “authentic, funny, culturally rich” and like “nothing we’ve seen in a long time”.

They added: “With touches of an Edgar Wright-like sensibility in its camera movements and lashings of humour, this is box fresh filmmaking which shows us that Ade Femzo is a genuine and promising young director.”

Drop Out (Ade Femzo/PA)

In addition to the three awards judged by the BFI’s jury, which was chaired by filmmaker Peter Kosminsky and included Heartstopper actor Kit Connor, The Last Of Us actress Bella Ramsey, writer-director Matthew Jacobs Morgan and critic and author Hanna Flint, seven other categories were judged by BFI and industry experts.

Best animation went to Lije Morgan for Interdimensional Pizza Pushers, which follows characters Honeybear and Fishlips as they race through dimensions to make their pizza deliveries on time, and Radheya Jegatheva took home best documentary for Pacing The Pool, which offers a glimpse into the life of Richard Pace, who finds that healing waters have helped him rise above his physical and mental stresses.

Clemente Lohr won best experimental film for Canned, about a mid-20s raver who explores the meaning of love, while Aleah Scott secured the best micro short prize for Safe, which examines the first-hand true accounts of young women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment and the long-term effects of the violations.

Best international film and best writer were both awarded to Thomas Percy Kim for Busan, which sees a pregnant Korean-American woman return to South Korea and her mother.

Each award included a cash prize of £1,000 and a mentoring package, while Klara Bond was given £750 and a special mention in the best international film category for Being Human, which follows the lives of eight people who are connected to each other in various ways.

This year’s BFI Future Film Festival, which was available online for free and in person at BFI Southbank to aspiring filmmakers aged 16 to 25, ran from February 16 to 19.

Speakers at the festival included Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, Knives Out director Rian Johnson, Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman and TV presenter and writer-director Reggie Yates.

Producers Jane Tranter (Succession), Rosie Alison (Paddington) and Simon Emanuel (The Batman), cinematographer Fabian Wagner, whose credits include House Of The Dragon, and film editor Martin Walsh, who won an Oscar for 2002’s Chicago, were also among the those to address the event.

A programme of 55 short films from filmmakers aged 16-25 was also on show at the festival.