Published: 06:00, 16 October 2020
| Updated: 16:38, 16 October 2020
A director has been shortlisted for a top award for his debut feature film, After Love, which is set in Dover.
Aleem Khan, who is from the Medway Towns, also had his movie backed by BBC Films and the BFI (British Film Industry) and was selected for this year’s Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week.
Aleem Khan talks about being shortlisted for his film
The award is given out annually to give the UK’s brightest and best up-and-coming filmmakers the gift of time and a £50k prize.
Mr Khan, 35, who also wrote the story for the film, is in the running for the prestigious award which premiered at the BFI London Film Festival last night.
It also received an official selection at the Telluride Film Festival ahead of its London Film Festival premiere.
The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award is in association with the BFI, and is the most significant of its kind in the UK film industry.
This year, actor, director, screenwriter, producer and poet, Michaela Coel is joining the judging panel.
Mr Khan was born and raised in Gillingham and is a former pupil of the Howard School. He is of mixed English-Pakistani heritage.
His film After Love is set in Dover and sees white English Muslim convert, Mary Hussain, suddenly finding herself a widow following the unexpected death of her husband.
A day after his burial, she discovers he has a secret just 21 miles across the Channel in Calais.
His debut short film, Diana, premiered at the 2009 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
His subsequent short, Three Brothers, was commissioned by Film London on the inaugural London Calling Plus scheme and premiered at the 2014 London Film Festival before touring the international festival circuit.
A BAFTA nomination for Best British Short Film followed in 2015 and later that year, Mr Khan was named a Screen International Star of Tomorrow.
A 2017 Fellow of both the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs, he is also an alumnus of Guiding Lights, The Locarno Filmmakers Academy and BFI Flare.
The bursary is designed to give the UK’s brightest and best up-and-coming filmmakers the gift of time - a crucial element in the creative process.
It is also aimed at supporting talented people at the beginning of their career and aims to bring up-and-coming film makers financial stability.
Two other finalists for the award are Cathy Brady, writer/director of her debut feature Wildfire, and Francis Lee, writer/director of his sophomore feature Ammonite.
The bursary presentation will take place at the The BFI London Film Festival 2020 Virtual LFF Audience Awards on Sunday night. (OCT 18)
Mr Khan said: "I studied film at university and kind of always knew I wanted to make films. From quite a young age, my dad always had a camcorder on him and there was so much video of us kids, that he was documenting about us, so that kind of rubbed off on me.
"After university I just carried on working as a director and writer and made short films and adverts and just stuck at it really.
"After Love is a drama and is about a woman called Mary in her 60s who lives in Dover with her husband. She's been married for 40-odd years and he dies very suddenly in the story.
"After he dies she discovers lots of secrets basically which make her take a ferry to Calais to investigate this big deceit that had perpetrated against her.
"My grandparents lived in Folkestone for years, so I knew the landscape well and there is something about the proximity of these two places (England and France) like two worlds which are very close but very separate but bound by this stretch of water.
"It felt like a very natural place to set the story."
"To be shortlisted for this award is just incredible. It's such an opportunity, such a rare opportunity, that just doesn't really exist.
"One of the most precious things about this bursary is it enabled the filmmaker to work on their own terms.
"For a filmmaker that's the holy Grail to be able to take the time to explore your stories without outside pressures.
"I don't know what the future holds for me, but I hope it's a future that I am making lots and lots of films."
The bursary follows a long tradition of Swiss luxury watch maker, IWC Schaffhausen’s commitment to and support of the film industry.
IWC Schaffhausen has been a sponsor of the BFI and the Official Time Partner of the BFI London Film Festival since 2014.