The Whicker’s World Foundation has announced the winners of its inaugural funding awards, worth £100k in total.

Alex Bescoby from Manchester won the main £80k Funding Award for Burma’s Lost Royals.
Bescoby’s story centres around a forgotten monarchy and a quest that threatens to tear a family apart. 

The £80k Funding Award is for under-30s looking to make a full-length documentary. 

Bescoby said: “I only picked up a camera two years ago and whilst working in Burma had an epiphany. This story for me opened the windows to Burma’s soul and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to tell it.”

The prizes were awarded by the Whicker’s World Foundation at the Sheffield Doc/Fest.

The Whicker’s World Foundation, built on the legacy of journalist and broadcaster Alan Whicker who died in 2013, was set up to support documentary makers, with the aim of empowering talent who might otherwise never find its place in this competitive industry.

Liz McIntyre, CEO & Festival Director of Sheffield Doc/Fest said: " All five finalists had incredible stories to tell but the jury overwhelming felt that Burma’s Lost Royals is the deserving winner – it’s an astonishing story giving us a window into another world with extraordinary characters and a sense of urgency that makes it a film that must be made.”

The runner’s up prize of £10,000 went to Americaville – Adam James Smith on the pursuit of happiness in a Chinese replica of an American town.

Judge and documentary maker Roger Graef said: “Americaville is a precious and idiosynchratic story that tells us much about China and its ambivalent attitude to the US.”

The five finalists pitched their ideas to a judging panel at Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield on 14th June. The winner will screen their completed film at Doc/Fest 2017.

The £4,000 winner of the award for veteran first-timers over the age of 50 went to Keith Earnest Hoult, for Fluechtlinge – Refugee. A fan of Whicker’s ‘gentle approach’ to interviewing, he was inspired to create a ten- minute film about Syrians seeking refuge in a disused airport used for the Berlin Airlift.
The runner up prize of £1,000 went to Reporter /Presenter Norman Fowler for The Truth About Aids (Producer Smita Patel / Editor Hugh Levinson for BBC World Service).

The winner of the first prize Audio Award of £4,000 went to Little Volcanoes, recorded, written and produced by Cathy Fitzgerald, with a sound mix by Matt Thompson and Mike Woolley. It is the first time a podcast rather than a radio documentary has won a major award in the UK. It is a Sky Arts online commission.

It follows the rhythms of a day at Pilgrims Hospice in Margate.

Staff Reporter

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