Senior Trio to Exit BFI Film Fund

Lizzie Francke, editor-at-large, Fiona Morham, head of production and Natascha Wharton, head of editorial will leave the BFI Film Fund later this year.

The three senior team members have led the BFI’s national lottery funding for the development and production of U.K. films. Acclaimed titles supported by them include “Rye Lane,” “Aftersun,” “Triangle of Sadness,” “Blue Jean” and “After Love,” among many others.

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Francke, Morham and Wharton will depart in late spring/early summer. They will continue to support their slate of projects, working with the filmmaking fund team as it transitions to a new structure. The news comes on the eve of details of the new fund, which will be revealed on March 21.

The BFI’s Screen Culture 2033 10-year strategy, published in 2022, earmarks £54 million ($66 million) over the next three years for filmmakers. The new BFI filmmaking fund is part of that. The BFI said it is is currently reviewing resources required to support the delivery of the new fund.

Ben Roberts, BFI CEO, said: “Natascha, Lizzie and Fiona leave a huge legacy behind them and a lasting impact on U.K. film making that has seen them steer some of the most exciting and important work coming out of the UK independent sector. They also leave us with an amazing slate of projects of which we are all incredibly proud. At this moment of change for the filmmaking fund, it is important to recognize the tremendous work of all three of them that we are building on. As we focused on debuts and put our values of equity, diversity and inclusion front and centre during the last strategy period they were instrumental in ensuring we supported great, important and impactful work. I wholeheartedly thank them for their enormous contribution to the BFI, their passion, intelligence and dedication and their legacy of incredible work.”

Francke, Morham and Wharton said in a joint statement: “It has been such a huge privilege to work for the Film Fund over the years and to champion an extraordinary range of filmmakers. With the 2023-33 strategy and the Filmmaking Fund being launched this week we feel it is a perfect time to step away to pursue our own ventures.

In recent years we have been immensely proud to have worked collectively across a broad range of films and in that witness an exceptional sea change in U.K. cinema with many new and original voices and perspectives being amplified. The vital work continues with a compelling range of projects going into imminent production and we are excited for the team we leave behind.

The new wave we have overseen and supported feels like a mighty force.”

Mia Bays, director of the BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund, added: “Lizzie, Natascha and Fiona are rightly recognized as three of the most experienced professionals in the U.K. film industry, with a track record that speaks for itself. Myself and the rest of the team, and, most importantly the filmmakers we work with, have learnt an enormous amount from them. I think I speak for everyone in saying how much we will benefit from their wealth of experience in this handover period, and wish them well for the future.”

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