Channel 4 has commissioned seven new documentary films its First Cut strand for first-time directors.
The films, from up-and-coming directors, span stories from Bognor Regis to Dewsbury and explore issues such as racial segregation through to the impact of Brexit on Britain’s temporary workforce.
Channel 4 Commissioning Executive Rita Daniels, who curates the First Cut strand says: “Developing new talent continues to be a focus for Channel 4’s Documentaries team – we want to help the next generation of successful storytellers find their voice and we are proud to have such a diverse group of directors authoring such a wonderfully eclectic mix of films.”
The new documentaries are:
White Kid Brown Kid
Two girls from very different worlds try to become friends in one of Britain’s most racially segregated towns. Dewsbury in West Yorkshire is home to a growing Asian Muslim community with parts of the town 98% Asian, whilst other parts remain totally white.
Told with honesty and humour, this film follows sixteen year old Siobhan and seventeen year old Farhana as they cross the racial divide and step into one another’s world for the very first time. What unfolds is a timely story that highlights the complexities of integration. As the girls face their differences they find themselves navigating both family and community concerns. Pushed beyond their comfort zone, how far can their friendship go?
Producer/Director: Luned Tonderai
Executive Producer: Ian Duncan
Prod Co: Windfall Films
How To Start An Airline (w/t)
Bangladeshi-British businessman Kazi Shafiqur Rahman loves planes. Whilst working at City Airport, Kazi did every job imaginable, from catering to security to cleaning the plane toilets. And following the creation of a successful fragrance business, Kazi is now in the position to fulfil his ultimate ambition: to launch a brand new airline in the UK.
However the path to the skies is beset with difficulty, we follow the highs and lows of his journey trying to break into one of the most expensive industries in the world. Kazi is also under pressure to fulfil the demands of his faith and insists his new airline is compliant with the teachings of Islam, complete with modest dress for cabin crew and only Halal food to be served on board. Can Kazi make his dream a reality and get his beloved airline off the ground?
Director: Ahmed Peerbux
Executive Producer: Larry Walford
Prod Co: Darlow Smithson Productions
British Workers Wanted (w/t)
Recruitment agency ‘Opus Loco’, from Bognor Regis, specialise in providing businesses with temporary workers. But with 98% of their workforce from Eastern Europe, the agency now faces a challenge as many are choosing to leave the UK. In the wake of Brexit, it’s time for the team to take drastic action and find some hard working Brits to enrol.
Run by three ‘Leave’ voting women, the glamourous trio at Opus Loco balance lengthy nail bar sessions, online dating, missing pets and UKIP rallies with the demands of a huge range of clients who need all kinds of temporary workers, from land scape gardeners, catering and warehouse staff.
The ladies use their charm, wit and brute strength in a variety of ways to coax the Brits they find into the workplace. But take up for temporary work isn’t as forthcoming as they hoped and as the 18 year old son of one of them says – “I’d rather just hang out with me girlfriend than get a job.” But Opus Loco has no intention of giving up…
Director: Fred Windsor-Clive
Executive Producers: Rachel Dummond-Hay & Tamsin Summers
Prod Co: Drummer TV
The Surgeon’s Apprentice
The Surgeon’s Apprentice follows three generations of neurosurgeons at St George’s hospital London, at crucial transitions in their lives. Henry Marsh, best-selling author of the memoir Do No Harm, has recently retired as Senior Consultant, but he continues to train future generations of surgeons. He has trained his protégée, Tim Jones, to succeed him and he, in turn, is training junior surgeon, David Baxter, as he prepares for his final qualifying exam.
When neurosurgeons operate, they carry a heavy burden. They know that a small movement of their tools could deprive a patient of movement, speech or memory. This film examines how they deal with that responsibility and pass it on from one generation to the next, via the most daunting apprenticeship in medicine. The surgeons themselves are disarmingly frank, open and reflective about the consequences of their decisions. The Surgeon’s Apprentice shines a light on the emotional, ethical and psychological dilemmas of a uniquely challenging profession.
Produced and Directed by: Sara Kandasamy
Executive Producer: David Dugan
Production Company: Windfall Films
Deaf School (w/t)
This film shows what it’s really like growing up as a deaf teenager. Told through the eyes of 15 year-old Lewis, the film follows him and two other pupils over three terms at their school, Mary Hare, a boarding school exclusively for deaf pupils that has a reputation as one of the best in the world.
Lewis and sixth formers Fae and Andrew are all living away from home and facing life changing decisions. Lewis decides he wants to be fitted with a cochlear implant that he hopes will help him hear. With outcomes of this procedure uncertain, there is a chance that he will not benefit from the procedure. Will he be able to hear his name – his lifelong aspiration- for the first time?
Andrew, has decided to apply for the Head Boy role in a bid to fit in with his peers. 18-year-old twins, Fae and Mae, are about to leave Mary Hare for university. Racked with nerves, Fae worries about leaving the ‘bubble’, that is Mary Hare, and going back into the ‘hearing world’. She is particularly anxious about being separated from her twin sister who she always relies on for emotional support. We follow the school’s efforts to build up Fae’s confidence and prepare her for university life.
Producer/Director: Camilla Arnold
Executive Producer: Helen Littleboy
Prod Co: Flashing Lights Media
The Internet, Cancer & Me (w/t)
Airing as part of Channel 4’s Stand Up to Cancer programming, this documentary follows three extraordinary young cancer patients who intimately record their own life and death battles with cancer and post the videos online for the world to see. Filmed over the course of a year, each patient deals with the high and lows of unpredictable scan results, the dramatic physical changes they endure, and the perpetual hope of defying the odds.
Producer/Director: Tom Pursey
Executive Producer Dan Reed
Prod Co: Amos Pictures
The Sleep Clinic
Welcome to the Sleep Clinic. Within its four walls, people with the most extreme and debilitating conditions come to asleep under the watchful gaze of the world’s leading sleep scientists, in the hope of a diagnosis and treatments that will solve their bedtime crisis.
With a staggering 77% of people in Britain failing to wake up each morning feeling refreshed and well-rested, this is the place where the most severe cases end up.
From insomniacs to sleepwalkers, the clinic deals with all types of patients whose night-time activities are having a detrimental effect on their lives. Whether it is affecting their ability to work and earn a living or risking relationships with their bed partners, for many visitors to the clinic, this is their last hope for a quiet night’s sleep. Creating specialised treatment plans and monitoring their progress, will the Sleep Clinic be able to end this nightmare and help them make peace with the land of nod?
Producer/ Director: Ross Bolidai
Executive Producer: Peter Collins
Prod Co: STV Productions
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