Filmmaker Challenge 2024

Headshots of this year's Filmmaker Challenge participants

(From left to right) Asena Nour, Hannah Blackwell, Hannah Ava Dahl, Julia Mervis, Marta Miskaryan, Tanicha Toro-Oloto.

Returning for the third year running, we are delighted to present our Filmmaker Challenge 2024. Six early-career UK filmmakers have been selected to undertake the challenge of making a film on the fly, with a micro budget and equipment support, as well as mentoring from Oscar and BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Julie Cohen (RBG, Every Body, My Name is Pauli Murray). 

Working to a tight deadline, filmmakers will respond to the festival theme of Reflections on Realities, with only the deadline as a commissioning constraint. All filming is to be undertaken in a single day in and around Sheffield.

Join us for a screening of the finished films + Q&A with the filmmakers and mentor, and see Sheffield through the eyes of our exciting new talents.


Meet the Filmmakers 

Asena Nour

Asena Nour is an independent filmmaker exploring liminal, marginal, and taboo subjects across documentaries, experimental and narrative films. Born and based in London, she offers a distinctly Turkish, working-class, and diasporic lens to explore issues of heritage, migration, memory, violence, and care rooted in womanhood and the everyday. Her award-winning debut narrative short See You In The Dark (2023) premiered at Berlin British Shorts. Her latest documentary My Mother’s Mother (2022), commissioned by Create Studios has screened at the BFI, LSFF, London Design Festival and is currently touring English Heritage sites. Her first documentary Homeland Trilogy (2017) is streaming on BFI Player and toured various cinemas across the UK as part of T A P E Collective’s ‘BWAYRF?’ season at the BFI. She has participated in various panel talks on diasporic filmmaking and contributed ‘The Root Will Grow Back,’ a meditation on diasporic filmmaking to The Road to Nowhere Magazine.


Hannah Blackwell

Hannah is an award-winning shooting producer/director with a passion for telling compelling and relevant stories with heart and empathy. She thrives in challenging situations and relishes any opportunity to be creative; whether that is troubleshooting an issue, or bringing an aesthetic vision to life. Her most recent work, Bend it like Bollywood, received the factual and specialist factual prize at the RTS Midlands 2023, and she has worked on a variety of branded BBC primetime shows, as well as short-form. She was an Edinburgh TV finalist in  'Ones to Watch' talent scheme in 2019, she produced and directed her own short for BBC Three whilst working on a full-time production in 2018, and recently was a Channel Four First Cut pitch finalist at Sheffield Doc Fest 2022. She has worked on several documentary series but would like to develop and further her career in documentaries to become an established filmmaker. She also believes wholeheartedly in the development and encouragement of women in shooting roles, as demonstrated by founding a peer-to-peer support group for women in the North called Women's Camera Collective. Her work with WCC has led to two collectively-shot short films being made by members, as well as funding from established production companies. She is fascinated by people, and wants to make films that make people think about the world around them and how they interact with it.


Hannah Ava Dahl 

Hannah Ava Dahl is a writer/director based in Glasgow. She is a graduate of the University for the Creative Arts, where she studied Film. Hannah has nearly 20 years of industry experience in various roles, working across feature documentaries, TV, and feature films. Feature documentaries she has worked on have been officially selected for festivals including Sundance, BFI London, Sheffield DocFest, and Hot Docs. Hannah's directorial debut was a short documentary that was officially selected for BAFTA qualifying festivals. Earlier this year, Hannah was one of the filmmakers chosen to participate in the Scottish Documentary Institute’s Emerging Filmmakers’ Circle Workshop. Recently, she has freelanced for BBC Studios, including working on the BAFTA Scotland-winning This Farming Life


Julia Mervis

Julia Mervis is an emerging filmmaker based in London. Julia’s films are playful and offbeat; she loves using documentary as an entry point into discovering all sorts of things, like seemingly boring conversations with her sister about being Jewish to rocketship launchers in London. She wants to use film to bring audiences to different people and stories and worlds in a way that is fresh and intimate and feels true to her own curiosity- without trying to hide the hand holding the camera. Julia’s documentaries have been shown at London Short Film Festival, Opencity Docs, Flatpack Film Festival and one was just nominated for Best Documentary at the 2024 BFI Future Film Festival which she was very excited about, apparently. She has a few projects on the horizon and is really looking forward to continuing to take creative risks, learn a lot and collaborate! She also loves Agnes Varda, a lot, and watching films and playing football.


Marta Miskaryan

Marta is a London-based documentary Director/Producer of Armenian origin. She first started making films as part of a collaborative project with rural communities in Armenia. Since then, she has taken on stories around the world, whilst expanding her worldview and visual language. As a director, she is inspired by real-life characters who show incredible passion and a commitment to a unique cause. She is particularly drawn to telling stories about science heritage and memory through powerful, visual metaphors. One of her previous projects, the documentary short 'Arquivo' was about the devastating tragedy of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. It was her first short film to enter festivals worldwide and become nominated in the 'Best Documentary' category in Rio. Her latest film for ‘’ROT54: Armenia’s Forgotten Space Giant’’ was commissioned by Al Jazeera English and broadcast internationally. It was created as an ode to scientists and dreamers - a desire to tell a story that is both universal and true to her roots.


Tanicha Toro-Oloto

Tanicha is a filmmaker from Kent who is inspired by the nuances of people and more broader themes such as race and class. Her observational short documentary, Under the Blanket, that she shot, directed and edited, won a student National Royal Television Society Award, for best undergraduate factual in 2023. The personal doc explored her dysfunctional mixed heritage family dynamics with themes of intergenerational trauma and incarceration. Tanicha has worked as a researcher for HiddenLight and most recently a researcher in the climate department at Heard. She is a passionate storyteller who would love to inspire social change through her work. 


Principal Supporter Prime Video

prime logo

Supported by Prime Video, Sheffield Hallam University, and Warner Chappell Production Music

sheffield Hallam university logo and Warner Chappell production music logo

Our Partners