For the 36th Edition of Leeds International Film Festival we launched the New Directors Competition as part of Official Selection, with UK Premieres of feature films from first or second-time filmmakers. LIFF has always supported the work of exciting new filmmaking talent and we wanted to increase our support for features alongside our seven competitions for shorts in Leeds Short Film Awards. A jury was chosen to decide the winner of the first New Directors Competition out of eight feature films, six of which were directed by women. 

Jury: Lauren Baker, Esther Johnson, Hannah Strong

Winner: I Have Electric Dreams by Valentina Maurel (Belgium, France, Costa Rica)
Jury Statement on Winning Film: We were extremely impressed by Valentina Maurel's taut direction of this father-daughter drama, which explores this familiar topic with true depth of imagination and vulnerability, presenting a fresh and spiky take on adolescent turmoil. The performances given by Daniela Marín Navarro and Reinaldo Amien Gutierrez were outstanding in their specificity, and we came away feeling like we really knew who Eva and Martin were, and how fraught but deep their relationship was. As a reflection on being the child of artists, I Have Electric Dreams depicts the great liberation that comes with this creativity, but also the difficulty of having to become an adult when you're still a teenager. A vibrant and deeply realistic relationship drama, we felt that I Have Electric Dreams represents not only an exciting new filmmaking talent but an acting presence in Daniela Marín Navarro, and are deeply pleased to be recognising this astonishing debut with the First Film Award.

Special Mention: Thunder by Carmen Jaquier (Switzerland)
Jury Statement on Special Mention: Carmen Jaquier's lush period piece shows the power in young female sexuality and liberation, subverting our expectations from its opening scene. Thunder depicts the untapped power of young women, and we enjoyed the juxtaposition between religion and passion in this stifling society. Marine Atlan's stunning cinematography shows the setting and era in a new, sumptuous manner, presenting a wild world that matches the spirit of the film's protagonist, while shooting bodies and nature with appropriate reverence. Lilith Grasmug delivers a spellbinding performance as Elisabeth, who undergoes a transformation as she discovers Godliness can be found through new forms of worship. We were impressed by Jacquier's imagination and bravery, and found this to be a refreshingly liberated take on sensuality.