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National Lottery players back Cannes Film Festival winners!

10th June 2020

The Cannes Film Festival is arguably the most prestigious event of its kind in the world. A showcase for the world’s best filmmaking talent, both on and off screen, the Festival acts a global platform (and a badge of honour) – helping our UK films and home-grown talent get seen across the world.

Whilst the Cannes Film Festival didn’t go ahead as planned this year, the Festival is still one of the most important showcases for the global film industry and being selected to be premiered is a huge honour, even if it’s not on the famous red carpet this year. We are thrilled that National Lottery funded films Ammonite, Limbo and After Love have been selected and we congratulate the filmmaking teams!


Ammonite stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan and is directed by Francis Lee. Lee’s directorial debut, God’s Own Country, was also funded by the National Lottery through the BFI, and was recently one of our Film Club Friday picks. The film’s producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly was a recipient of a National Lottery supported BFI Vision Award.


Limbo is an offbeat observation of refugees waiting to be granted asylum on a remote Scottish island. It focuses on Omar, a young Syrian musician who is burdened by the weight of his grandfather's oud, which he has carried all the way from his homeland. In 2017, producer Irune Gurtubai took part in talent development programme BFI NETWORK@LFF, which is supported by National Lottery funding, and designed to support new filmmakers learn about the industry and masterclasses, mentoring and networking.

After Love stars Joanna Scanlan as Mary, who, after unexpectedly becoming a widow, discovers that her late husband has a secret just twenty-one miles across the English channel in Calais. It is the debut feature from writer/director Aleem Khan and is produced by Matthieu de Braconier. In 2015 their short film Three Brothers (funded by the National Lottery via BFI NETWORK) was nominated for Best Short Film at the BAFTAs.Director Steve McQueen’s recent work, Mangrove and Lovers Rock have also been selected this year, and we’re delighted that National Lottery funding supported his earlier films Shame and Hunger, both starring Michael Fassbender.

To celebrate this fantastic news, we’re taking the opportunity to revisit some of the brilliant films that have had success at Cannes over the years, thanks to National Lottery funding, putting players in the starring role!

All the films, and many others, can be watched on the BFI player. You can enjoy a two-week free subscription trial just by signing up!

Here’s our top five Cannes-award winners.

You Were Never Really Here

5) You Were Never Really Here (2017) – Winner of Best Screenplay and Best Actor
Strap yourselves in for this psychological action thriller written and directed by Lynne Ramsey. Joaquin Phoenix gives a brutal portrayal of a Gulf War veteran and former FBI agent hired to find a politician’s daughter who has been kidnapped by a human trafficking network.


4) Pride (2014) – Winner of Queer Palm Award
Just in time for Pride month in June, this film tells the true story of group of lesbian and gay activists who, in an unlikely alliance, raised money for the families affected by the British miners strike in the 80s.
It features a host of top UK acting talent, including Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott and Imelda Staunton and is directed by Matthew Warchus.

American Honey

3) American Honey (2016) – Winner of the Jury Prize
Be transported to the sun-soaked American highways in road movie American Honey directed by Andrea Arnold. Troubled teenager Star runs away from home with a traveling sales crew, selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Join them as they journey across the American Midwest accompanied by an energetic and uplifting dance music soundtrack.

The Lobster

2) The Lobster (2015) – Winner of the Jury Prize
If you think swiping right is bad, try the dystopian dating world of The Lobster, where it’s illegal to be single. Anyone who hasn’t found that special someone must report to the Hotel, where they have 45 days to find a life partner, or face being transformed into an animal of their choosing. From Yorgos Lanthimos, the director behind The Favourite.

I, Daniel Blake

1) I, Daniel Blake (2016) – Winner of the Palme D’or
I, Daniel Blake, directed by Ken Loach, scooped the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. The film follows Daniel Blake, who after suffering a heart attack is told he cannot return to work. This leads to him facing conflicting messages from his doctor and the welfare system as he struggles to access support and employment allowance.

And honorary mentions for some of the other fantastic National Lottery funded films that have graced the screen at Cannes, including the highly acclaimed I Am Not A Witch, the debut from Rungano Nyoni, more from Ken Loach in Jimmy’s Hall, and black comedy Sightseers, an early film from Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, Free Fire).

Happy watching!