Variety Winner

‘Doctor Who’ Star Jodie Whittaker-Backed Fund Championing Female and Non-Binary Filmmakers Unveils Winner at Cannes (EXCLUSIVE)

By Naman Ramachandran

By Naman Ramachandran for Variety, May 17, 2024 9:00am PT

A short film fund aimed at championing female and non-binary filmmakers led by “Doctor Who” star Jodie Whittaker has unveiled its first project winner at the Cannes Film Festival.

At Cannes 2023, women’s and non-binary visibility platform Primetime and Bournemouth Film School’s Funding Futures unveiled an initiative to spotlight women and non-binary filmmakers. After some 100 global submissions, a longlist emerged, chosen by a jury of industry heavyweights, including BAFTA nominees Ella Glendining and Ameenah Ayub Allen, Curtis Brown agent Cynthia Okoye, Funding Futures executive producer William Shutt, actor and Primetime founder Victoria Emslie, and “Doctor Who” actors Mandip Gill and Whittaker.

The winning project is “Truckload,” a comedy-drama inspired by real events. Writer-musician Evie Jones, who endured a life-altering accident, channels her experience into the story of Lizzie, a woman navigating life post-accident. Jones said: “Since becoming disabled it became quickly and startlingly clear that I no longer saw my experiences depicted on screen, and that disabled led stories are often contained to what many members of the disabled community deem ‘pity porn.’ ‘Truckload’ exemplifies the complexities and truth of becoming a disabled adult.”

Director Aella Jordan-Edge, a childhood friend of Jones, added: “The film places us, the audience, right in Evie’s head, in a way that only film can. The characters and dialogue jump off the page, bursting with life, truthfulness and something of what it means to be human. I knew audiences had to feel this too.”

Whittaker said: “Evie Jones’ ‘Truckload’ is an incredibly raw, brutally funny and brilliantly honest script. She, Aella Jordan-Edge and Arpita Ashok blew me away with their vision, and I cannot wait to be a part of this film.”

Producer Arpita Ashok, transitioning from law to film, resonated with the project’s underrepresented voices. Emslie, who will produce alongside Ashok, highlighted the Empower fund’s mission to dismantle barriers for marginalized filmmakers by securing finance and star power.

Shutt lauded the talent and passion driving “Truckload.” HAWK London contributed a £15,000 ($19,000) camera package and Picture Shop £15,000 in post-production services. Picture Shop’s Mark Wynter expressed pride in supporting the initiative and fostering industry inclusivity.

Read the full article in Variety here.