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Netflix announces winners of career-boosting Documentary Talent Fund

Netflix announces winners of career-boosting Documentary Talent Fund

Today, Netflix announces the five filmmaking teams who will receive funding and professional support to make a short documentary on the theme of “Connection,” as part of the second year of the Netflix Documentary Talent Fund. Following a rigorous application process and thousands of applications, a shortlist of twelve filmmaking teams were invited to Netflix’s UK HQ to pitch in front of a panel of industry experts. 

The successful recipients and their projects are:

  • Anna Snowball & Abolfazl Talooni – IRANIAN YELLOW PAGES, Iranians in London, trapped between two cultures, search for connection by placing weird and wonderful adverts in the Iranian Yellow Pages.
  • Anna Rodgers & Zlata Filipovic – TWO MOTHERS, An unusual bond compels an Irish mother of twins to travel to war torn Ukraine in order to rescue the woman who carried her babies.
  • Caroline Williamson & Troi Lee – TURN UP THE BASS is the remarkable story of Troi Lee (aka ‘DJ Chinaman’), a deaf DJ and pioneer of the UK’s deaf rave scene, as he and his ‘deaf rave’ team put on his 20 year anniversary show.
  • Logan Rea & Krishna Istha – FIRST TRIMESTER follows a transgender performance artist as he interviews hundreds of potential sperm donors live on stage in a quest to find the perfect connection, one that will enable him and his partner to start their family.
  • Olivia Smart – BLACK PEOPLE CAN’T SWIM, Drowning isn’t an option as three people tackle their biggest fear.

Each team will now be empowered to produce a short documentary between 8-12 minutes long with a budget of £30,000 that will be released on Netflix’s YouTube channel in the New Year. As part of the process they will now undergo bootcamp training from specialists at Netflix who will coach and host workshops covering all aspects of production including legal, creative, HR, production and finance. The Netflix Documentary Talent Fund was created to break down barriers of access for emerging filmmakers. The initiative also provides them with a foundation of knowledge as well as hands on training in all aspects of the industry to allow them to flourish within their careers.

The fund to date has championed filmmakers from across the whole of the UK and Ireland, with Netflix supporting talent from Wicklow to Hackney and the Midlands to Bristol this year.  The recipients of the inaugural year of the fund saw great success with their films. Love Languages, a film by Jason Osborne and Precious Mahaga was longlisted for best British Short Film by BAFTA this year.  Jason Osbourne, director said, “Before the Netflix Documentary Talent Fund, my career was in transition. I really was working on belief (in what, I’m not sure) and faith (also not quite sure what in!) that maybe I could work in film and television. What’s happened to my career since, is entirely down to this fund.”

Year 1 recipient Tobi Kyeremateng, who made her directorial debut with her film ÓWÀMBÈ, went on to win the 2023 BAFTA TV Award for Short Form Programme for her next project How To Be A Person. Fellow fund alumni Beya Kabelu and Shiva Raichandani were also nominated in the same category, for their follow up work. The ten films from Year 1 have now seen over 40 festival screenings including Urbanworld Film Festival, Iris Prize, London Short Film Festival and Aesthetica.

Kate Townsend, Documentary Features said, “Last year’s fund was a huge success with filmmakers really making the most of the opportunity and springboarding to other projects and even BAFTA nominations. We are thrilled today to announce our second year cohort who we are sure will also go on to supercharge their careers too. The five films we have selected to support, each offer a unique take on the theme of connection. From an amazing story about two mothers with a unique bond in Ireland, to uniting communities as part of the deaf rave scene in Hackney, we are very much looking forward to kicking off production on these documentaries and seeing what these filmmakers can achieve. The sky’s the limit!” 

Townsend led a team of industry professionals who formed the judging panel to select this year’s recipients. This included Julia Nottingham (Founder and CEO Dorothy Street Pictures); Orlando Von Einsiedel (Oscar and BIFA winning Director, Virunga, The White Helmets, Evelyn and Founder of Grain Media); Tamana Ayazi (Director, In Her Hands); Jenny Popplewell (Director, American Murder: The Family Next Door), Alex Brunati (Blue Cuckoo Co-Founder and Line Producer), Tanisha Artman (CEO SBTV), Jonny Taylor (Original Documentary Film, Netflix), Aaron Lynch (UK Marketing, Netflix) and Bri Akakpo (UK Marketing, Netflix). 

The process

Entries were open from 16th January to 16th February 2023. For the first round, applicants were required to submit a logline (one sentence); a short synopsis and a creative statement about their documentary idea.  Further details on the fund can be found at . The final docs will be launched in early 2024, and will be showcased at an event attended by industry figures to help our talent expand their networks and advance their careers. Elisabeth Hopper returns as Lead Producer of the fund, supported by producers Georgie Yukiko Donovan and Daisy Ifama.


Anna Snowball & Abolfazl Talooni, IRANIAN YELLOW PAGES


Dotted across London, Iranian-owned shops, laundrettes, and restaurants house newspaper stands stacked with colourful Farsi-language publications. Tucked within their pages are intriguing free ads called the ‘Iranian Yellow Pages’. We pick up the phone and discover the people and stories behind these adverts…OAPs partying, former spies haunted by guilt, puppeteers looking for love, and refugee food delivery drivers dreaming of launching the next big restaurant. They all want the same thing; to find connections in the lonely city they now call home and reconnection to the complicated country they’ve left behind.

Anna Rodgers & Zlata Filipovic, TWO MOTHERS


After losing a baby late in pregnancy, Cathy turned to surrogate Ivana in Ukraine who safely carried her twins in 2019. The two mothers developed an unusual bond. When the war broke out, Cathy felt compelled to cross the border into a warzone and carry out the family of the woman who had carried hers. Knowing Ireland only recognised the birth mother in law, Cathy chose to risk bringing Ivana and her three children to live together in their small cottage in rural Wicklow and forge a life together as an unusual family. This is a film about their relationship.

Caroline Williamson & Troi LeeTURN UP THE BASS

Bristol & Hackney

This is the inspirational story of DJ Chinaman, who pioneered the deaf rave scene by connecting the deaf community with music. As the first deaf artist to perform at Glastonbury festival, he has changed the lives of many young deaf people. We follow him as he puts on his 20 year anniversary show in Rich Mix, East London, this October – celebrating 20 years of ‘deaf rave’ and showcasing his protégées of deaf and disabled breakdancers, MCs and sign rappers. But pulling it off and communicating his vision for the heaviest bass and deepest vibrations – won’t be easy.

Logan Rea & Krishna Istha, FIRST TRIMESTER


See Also

This documentary follows Krishna Istha, a transgender artist, who wants to have a baby. Due to a lack of resources for trans people wanting to biologically conceive, Krishna has created a durational theatre show, opening these private conversations and relatively unheard perspectives to the wider public. Over two weeks at a renowned London theatre, he attempts to find the “perfect” sperm donor by interviewing strangers live on stage. Krishna asks intimate, probing questions, ranging from matter-of-fact personal data to philosophical perspectives in order to reveal social and political beliefs—an effort to make the ultimate connection. FIRST TRIMESTER is an exploration of human connection and parenthood, and offers a rare opportunity to witness queer family-making.

First Trimester the show will be coming to Battersea Arts Centre in the autumn and tickets will be available from 30th June.


The Midlands / London 

According to Swim England, 95% of Black adults in the UK don’t swim. We follow the stories of three people from different walks of life breaking racial stereotypes to learn to swim for the first time. Each individual with their own personal goal, proving it’s never too late to learn. With the support of their coaches and community we will follow their journey to become competent swimmers, touching upon the racial history that has created barriers to entry for black people and what has hindered them learning before now. Will they sink or swim, the choice is theirs.

Year 1 Films 

Available to watch on Netflix’s Still Watching YouTube Channel