We’re delighted to announce that Screen Academy Scotland alumnus Ben Sharrock will act as a mentor in the fourth year of Glasgow Film Festival’s New Talent Mentorship Scheme, in which Hearth Virgoe of MA Film and Debora Bottino and Katie Mallinder of BA Film will be mentees.

The Mentorship Scheme is for emerging professionals working in film, high-end television or animation, from under-represented backgrounds in the Scottish screen industries.

Mentors who will be working with the eight successful candidates include director Asim Abbasi, director Ben Sharrock, producer Sarah Drummond, director Louis Paxton and director Michael Lee Richardson.

Applications to the 2023/24 programme were opened earlier this year to those from under-represented backgrounds, including (but not limited to) individuals of the global majority, LGBTQIA+, low or no income backgrounds, and people with disabilities who live in Scotland, are over 18, and not in full-time education.

Each of the mentees will receive practical support and training over the next six months from leading industry professionals in their chosen field of screenwriting, directing or producing. Successful applicants will also receive complimentary accreditation for Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) 2024.

The scheme is funded by the William Grant Foundation. All mentors for the 2023/24 programme will be announced soon. The full list of successful mentees for 2023/24 are:

Heath Virgoe (they/them)

Heath is a queer writer-director based in Edinburgh and a graduate of MA Film at Screen Academy Scotland. They make films about disembodied limbs, textile-based necromancy, satanic ex-boyfriends, and love. Their film Kitchen Sink Fantasy premiered at BFI Flare London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival 2023 and has since screened at Encounters Short Film Festival 2023, and Scottish Queer International Film Festival 2023.

Debora Bottino (she/her)

Debora is a writer and director living in Glasgow. Following her film studies at Screen Academy Scotland and San Diego State University, Debora has focused on creating commissioned short films distributed internationally. She explores the complexity of womanhood, mental health, rural realities, and the intersection between individual and collective memory in the technological age. Recently wrapping Sharp Short commission, You Land (Screen Scotland and BFI), Debora is now in the process of writing her debut feature Crybaby while also developing Big Shop, an experimental documentary about shoplifters funded by Grey Moth and Tape Collective.

Katie Mallinder (she/her)

Katie is an Edinburgh-based producer managing diverse projects such as brand online content, short films and television. As a VT producer on BBC Scotland’s A View from the Terrace, she travels Scotland finding emotive stories in the world of Scottish football. Katie further pursues her passion for storytelling by working on captivating short films. As she embarks on the next phase of her career, Katie is eager to broaden her industry experience, telling great stories in whatever form that may be.

Riad Arfin (he/him)

Riad is a Bangladeshi filmmaker based in Glasgow. His short films Where is home, A Bus Ride and A Fishing Story have screened at various festivals worldwide with A Bus Ride winning the Best Film Award at the Dhaka International Short and Independent Film Festival 2014, and A Fishing Story winning the jury award at Chitrovasha Film Festival 2020. His film A Border Between Us recently had

its World Premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2023. As a producer-director at BBC Media Action, Riad worked on a drama series about mental health and gender-based violence for Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh.

Ryan Williams (he/him)

Ryan is a Welsh director and writer based in Glasgow and has directed numerous narrative shorts, with his 2021 film Parting Frenzy winning Best Horror Short at the Kino London Short Film Festival. His latest short, Natural Causes, premiered at the BIFA qualifying North East International Film Festival this year. He is currently developing two new short film projects driven by entertainment with a message. Ryan has a particular interest in exploring lived versus experienced reality. With a background in high-end TV production, he has worked on Peaky Blinders and Emmerdale in script editorial, and at Rollem Productions in script development.

Aodhan Gallagher (they/he)

Aodhan is a playwright and screenwriter from Glasgow who trained at the Rita and Burton School of Dramatic Writing at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. With an interest in telling authentic Scottish stories, they decided to move back home after graduating. Aodhan was a participant in the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland 2019/20 mentorship scheme, Dundee Rep Stripped 2022, and worked as a story-liner for BBC’s River City. Their debut play, Write-off, was selected for A Play, A Pie and A Pint’s 2023 Spring Season.

Ryan Rutherford (he/him)

Ryan is a director and writer based in Glasgow. His passion for film started from an early age creating stop motion films with Star Wars action figures and he has since developed his craft in any way he could. He has gone on to work with the likes of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, The Great Tapestry of Scotland and world-renowned author Alexander McCall Smith, as well as creating his own shorts. He has a particular interest in the folklore of Scotland and presenting these stories for a new generation of audiences.

Simone Smith (she/her)

Simone is a self-taught filmmaker from Glasgow. Her debut short film Red won a BAFTA New Talent Award and her short film Slap was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA. Both Slap and her latest work The Möbius Trip have gone on to win Jury Special Mentions at Glasgow Short Film Festival with The Möbius Trip being longlisted for Best British Short Film in the 2023 British Independent Film Awards. The title also won awards at Encounters International Film Festival and Chicago Underground Film Festival. Simone’s debut feature film It’s Too Late You Can’t Save Me is currently in development with BFI Network / Short Circuit First Features scheme.

GFF is one of the leading film festivals in the UK and is run by Glasgow Film, a charity which also runs Glasgow Film Theatre. Glasgow Film Festival is made possible by support from Screen Scotland, the BFI Audience Projects Fund, awarding National Lottery funding and Glasgow Life.

Allison Gardner, CEO of Glasgow Film and Director of GFF, said: “I am delighted to welcome this year’s mentees who exemplify the exciting emerging talent we have here in Scotland. We are passionate about supporting the new generation of filmmakers in Scotland as they are a vital part of the growing success of our screen industry. We are thankful for the support of our talented mentors and the William Grant Foundation who share our passion for supporting new talent and we look forward to working with them to help our mentees navigate this exciting point in their careers.”

Glasgow Film Festival 2024 runs from 28 February to 10 March with Industry Focus – four days of events, workshops and networking opportunities for filmmakers at all stages of their careers – taking place from 4-7 March.

In its short history, Glasgow Film Festival’s Industry programme has championed new voices, both in front of and behind the camera. Recognising their role in supporting diverse talent, the scheme will assist those who will most benefit from mentorship to develop their filmmaking careers. For more information please see here.

Press and Industry Accreditation for GFF 2024 will open on Monday 20 November. Applications for accreditation should be made online here.

The GFF programme will be announced in January, with tickets going on sale later that month.