Border Crossings 2018 - Stories in Search of an Author


Filmmakers, are you ready for an academic project to inspire your storytelling? Would you like to collaborate with some of the world’s leading scholars? Could your film skills make some brilliant academic research accessible to wider audiences?

Academics, do you have a research story that could be turned into a documentary film project? Would you like to collaborate with a professional filmmaker with an established track record? Do you want to share your research with a wide public audience?

To celebrate our new Creative Documentary by Practice MFA (to be led by Sophie Fiennes, Kim Longinotto and Riete Oord), Open City Documentary Festival are relaunching their Border Crossings initiative with a £5,000 development fund for filmmakers collaborating with academics who have a research story in search of an author. A runner's up prize of £2,500 will also be awarded.

Taking place as part of UCL's Festival of Culture, this is an exciting ‘speed-dating’ initiative aiming to build partnerships, to create opportunities for research and knowledge to be translated into insightful and engaging documentary and to allow filmmakers access to table-turning research stories.

There are places for 10 filmmakers and 10 researchers. During the course of the two hour session, researchers and filmmakers will meet to discuss their work and will form teams following this meeting. These teams will be eligible to apply for the £5,000 development fund. All applicants will pitch their projects to a panel of expert judges during Open City Documentary Festival 2018 (4th - 9th September). The award will go to the most exciting and viable project pitched.

The deadline for applications was midnight on 23rd May 2018.

Applications have now closed. Successful participants will be notified by 31st May.



STAGE 1: MEETING EVENT - 7th June 2018


10 filmmakers, 10 researchers meet one another in a closed environment.  No observers allowed at this event.

The event will last about 2 hours and will be hosted on 7th June.



Only teams from 2018 Border Crossings are eligible to submit a proposal for the September pitching session. Teams for the pitching may be 2 or more people, with at least one researcher and one filmmaker.

Eligible projects must be based in documentary but can be traditional narrative, non-linear, hybrid or interactive in form.

The deadline for proposals will be announced following the initial event.


- Short application form including collaborators names and project title

- 300 words proposal of film project - your proposal needs to be exciting, original and feasible to be worth choosing. Think about how your project will broaden audience awareness and understanding of your researcher’s work.

- 300 words on how they would use the development fund

- 100 word biog from each participant. Although we don’t require examples of previous work you should have these available if we request them - films / relevant publications.



September - Pitching Event

Date and Venue TBC

Teams are invited to pitch their film idea to the industry panel during Open City Documentary Festival 2018 (4th - 9th September). Each team will be given 5 minutes for a presentation (this can be oral only or can include visuals, stills or moving images).

The winning project and the runner up will be announced at our awards ceremony on Saturday 8th September.



Team develop their pitch into a project that is ready to go into production. The development level is up to the team - they may use the fund to pay for travel costs for research, or for a studio / accommodation for a residency where they can work together, they could do some preliminary shooting on their chosen subject. The team may produce some kind of short trailer or audio-visual material to show how the project is progressing, and how the team want to develop it further.

A final report will need to be submitted to evaluate the success of the project/fund.



Team present work in progress at Open City Documentary Festival 2019.