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BAFTA Names Female Directors to Participate in 'BAFTA Elevate' Programme

18 May 2017
Event: BAFTA Elevate LaunchDate: Wednesday 17 May 2017Venue: BAFTA, 195 PiccadillyHost: Amanda Berry-Area: Portraits BAFTA/Jamie Simonds

Bespoke initiative will support 15 experienced female directors to progress in high-end television and feature films

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has revealed the names of 15 female directors it will be supporting through BAFTA Elevate, a new bespoke annual programme that aims to elevate individuals from under-represented groups to the next stage of their career. The participants were welcomed at a reception of Wednesday evening (17 May), attended by leading film and television executives.

The 2017 BAFTA Elevate programme addresses the low numbers of female directors being employed in the industry – between 2004 and 2014,  just 13.6% of working directors were female (Directors UK, 2016) – and will support the participants to progress in high-end television and feature films.

This carefully selected group of 15 exciting female directors was chosen from almost 250 applicants, highlighting the range and number of talented working female directors. 

BAFTA Elevate has been developed through a period of consultation with commissioners, high-end television executives and producers, agents and directors themselves, led by BAFTA, in association with Pia Pressure, and in consultation with producer Ivana MacKinnon and director Debs Paterson. The year-long initiative will include tailored panel discussions, masterclasses and workshops that will build peer support relationships, address cutting edge technical advances, and promote the directors to the wider industry.

The female directors network was initially conceived by director Debs Paterson as an opportunity to highlight the number of experienced female directors ready to work, and to build a peer-to-peer community based on support and shared knowledge.

The 15 selected directors’ portfolios span a range of work, including festival-recognised features, award-winning shorts, continuing television drama and children’s programmes. Among the participants are a number of BAFTA-recognised talent, including four BAFTA-nominees, one BAFTA Scotland nominee and a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit.

Mariayah Kaderbhai, BAFTA’s Film Programme Manager, said:  “The 2017 BAFTA Elevate programme attracted an overwhelming number of talented and experienced applicants, and we are thrilled to be supporting our incredible fifteen selected participants across the next 12 months. Through BAFTA Elevate, we hope to provide these talented individuals with the platform they need to reach the next stage of their careers by helping them build relationships and allow them to benefit from BAFTA’s network of industry experts.”

Pippa Harris, Chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee, said: “The women identified through BAFTA Elevate demonstrates just how much female directing talent there is in the film and television industries - and how important it is to support these women and ensure that their talents are being recognised. We are delighted to have the generous support of Pia Pressure, a film and television production company that champions new, emerging and under-represented talent, in this initiative.”

The BAFTA Elevate female directors programme is delivered in association with Pia Pressure, a production company that champions under-represented filmmakers.

The ‘BAFTA Elevate 2017: Female Directors’ programme participants are:

  • Alicia Duffy
  • Amanda Blue
  • Cathy Brady
  • Christiana Ebohon-Green
  • Dawn Shadforth
  • Delyth Thomas
  • Emma Sullivan
  • Kate Saxon
  • Lindy Heymann
  • Lisa Clarke
  • Rebecca Johnson
  • Sally El Hosaini
  • Sarah Walker
  • Tina Gharavi
  • Vanessa Caswill

For more information about BAFTA Elevate 2017, visit here

For the full biographies of all the participants, visit here 

Note to Editors:

BAFTA Elevate has been informed by the findings of a research report, commissioned by BAFTA in partnership with Creative Skillset and the BFI, that examined the career success factors of film, television and games practitioners from under-represented groups. To read the report, published in February 2017, visit

For further information on BAFTA Elevate, or for interviews with any of the participants, please contact:

Eleanor Pickering at BAFTA
T: +44 (0)20 7292 5863
E: [email protected]

Niyi Akeju at BAFTA
T: +44 (0)20 7292 5865
E: [email protected]


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. In addition to its Awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – featuring workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes – in the UK, USA and Asia; it offers unique access to the world’s most inspiring talent and connects with a global audience of all ages and backgrounds. BAFTA relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its ongoing outreach work. To access the best creative minds in film, television and games production, visit For more, visit

About Pia Pressure

Founded by award winning filmmaker Pia Getty in 2015, Pia Pressure is a production company set up to support emerging talent and new voices to make exciting, moving and original films. By doing so, Pia Pressure aim to create an ever-growing artist-led network of rising talents. Together with producer James Durrant and award winning director Johnny Kenton, Pia Pressure has introduced the Pia Pressure Awards, which offers the opportunity to receive up to £20,000 in investor funding and support on their project.  With a diverse and exciting development slate, and collaborations with rising stars such as Debs Paterson, Rachna Suri, Melissa Iqbal, Johnny Kenton and Sam Washington, 2017 will be a big year for Pia Pressure.

About Debs Paterson  

Debs Paterson is a director known for BIFA-nominated Africa United (2010) and this year is the first female helmer on Emmy-nominated action drama series Strike Back (2017). In 2011, Paterson was showcased in Los Angeles as part of the BAFTA Brits to Watch initiative. Paterson has worked as a mentor and advisor for many talent development programs, including Raindance MA in Filmmaking, BFI’s Young Talent schemes and Film London’s Microwave and London Calling. In 2016, Paterson received a Pia Pressure Award to develop her female survival thriller Thin Air. She has a social justice action feature in development with Stray Bear Films and Film4.

About Ivana MacKinnon

Ivana MacKinnon is a producer with credits including the BAFTA and Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and award-winning thriller The Descent (2005). In 2011, MacKinnon set up production company Stray Bear, which she runs with BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, Lauren Dark. Stray Bear's first production, Jonah, premiered at Sundance 2013 and has won multiple international awards. In 2013, Ivana executive produced War Book, a political thriller written by a Jack Thorne and starring Sophie Okonedo and Antony Sher, which was released in cinemas and screened on BBC4 in summer 2014. Stray Bear's upcoming feature film Beast, directed by Michael Pearce and starring Jessie Buckley, will be released in late 2017.