2017 Jury


Martyn Auty entered the film and TV industry in the 1970s running arthouse cinemas and assisting on the Edinburgh Film Festival. By the late 1970s he had become a film critic writing for Sight and Sound, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and Time Out before being recruited to BBC TV, where he spent four years as a drama producer.


Headhunted by Nik Powell and Stephen Woolley to join Palace Pictures, Martyn oversaw their move in to TV producing drama, comedy and documentary.


Through the 1990s he produced many hours of mainstream ‘high end’ drama for ITV and worked independently making two movies for which he also wrote the stories (A Foreign Field and Soul Survivors). He returned to BBC to co-write and co-produce the period drama Gentlemen’s Relish. Among the leading actors Martyn worked with during this time were: Alec Guinness, Lauren Bacall, Jeanne Moreau, Ian McShane, Isaac Hayes and Billy Connolly.


After producing a family feature of ‘Heidi’ starring Max Von Sydow, he went on to develop and produce ‘Ways to Live Forever‘ in 2009 under his new banner Life & Soul Pictures. The film starred Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox and Greta Scacchi, was released coast-to-coast in the USA in 2010 and won six awards.


He is currently CEO of Life & Soul Pictures based in London.


Amanda Brennan is a Director, Producer and Actor Trainer. Her recent projects as a producer include Dawn of the Deaf (Sundance 2017, Stiges, Fright Fest 2016), Healey’s House (London Film Festival, Encounters, London Short film Festival 2017), Fangirl (Underwire, Aethetica 2016), Birth Cloud (Monaco 2015), The Befuddled Box of Betty Buttifint (East End Film Festival 2015), Beautiful Death (Oaxaca & Aesthetica 2012) and Grace (Cambridge, Texas, Best Screen play,Tribeca 2012). As a Director, Letters to April 2016 (Women in Fim and Media, Short Film Festival Ireland, Newark Film festival), Yes, but that’s not all (Runner up at Moondance 2016), Birthcloud (Best Supporting Actress, Best Score, Best Costume, Best Ensemble cast Monaco 2015).


She is Principal Lecturer in Acting at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and also works as a freelance acting coach. Other recent projects include Genius 2018, Journeys End (2018), Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children (2016), The Night Of (2016), Dusky Paradise (2015), X + Y (2014). She is the author or The Energetic Performer, published in 2016 by Singing Dragon.


Jeremy is the founder of Sketch Films, a London based production company producing documentaries, films for NGOs, branded content and shorts. Together with his team, he often produces films about people living in challenging conditions in remote regions of the world, like Eastern Sudan or North Western Cameroon. Jeremy started out as a floor runner on the feature film ‘Waking Ned’, did a stint in feature film development and then co-founded the short film network Future Shorts (http://www.futureshorts.com/). He’s been taught by the legendary Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami and directed several short films and docs. He recently produced and directed a documentary about the late American designer Bill Willis, one of the first expats to settle in Marrakech in the 1960s and create an alternative hedonistic bohemian paradise. As well as running Sketch, Jeremy reads books and scripts for Filmwave and Element Pictures in London.


A writer, director and producer since 1981, Stuart has made highly regarded TV drama and movies that have sold around the world, winning him two British Academy (and other) awards.


At 13, Stuart had his first film shown at Cannes. The Virus of War was a 16mm drama about a fascist-run island and is preserved in the National Film Archive. After graduating from Balliol College, Oxford, with a first class degree in Modern History, he began directing TV drama. His first feature-length BBC film, ‘An Ungentlemanly Act‘ dramatising the first 36 hours of the Falklands War starring Ian Richardson and Bob Peck, won the BAFTA as Best Single Drama and many international awards.


In 1995 Stuart directed ‘Our Friends in the North‘ starring Daniel Craig, the most successful drama for 15 years on BBC2, which won him another BAFTA for Best Drama Serial. In 1996, he wrote the $6 million HBO/BBC film ‘Deadly Voyage‘, a fact-based crime drama that won Silver Nymph for Best Screenplay at Monte Carlo and proved one of HBO’s most popular movies of the year. The following year he wrote, produced and directed cult comedy Preaching to the Perverted, theatrically released in 23 countries.


In 1999, Harold Pinter chose Stuart to co-write, produce and direct the hard-hitting documentary Against the War, attacking the NATO bombing of Serbia for the BBC. In 2001 Stuart produced, wrote and directed Revelation, a mystical thriller starring Terence Stamp, James Darcy and Udo Kier. In 2007 his feature doc Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead followed his father, who escaped from both the Holocaust and the Gulag, retracing his steps decades later. Theatrically released in the UK, it toured festivals with award-winning success, including nominations at the British Independent Film Awards and Griersons.


His black comedy May I Kill U? (2013), starring Kevin Bishop and Frances Barber, won a Silver Melies as one of the best European genre films of the year, among other awards. The Secret is a 4-part miniseries written and executive produced by Stuart for ITV and Hat Trick Productions. Based on a real-life crime, it stars James Nesbitt and achieved No 1 ratings and excellent reviews for the drama and its “superb script” (Daily Telegraph).


Karen Zarindast-Pitts is a senior news producer with the BBC. Her documentary on Muslim Americans was screened at the prestigious Frontline Club and was widely praised in the press. Prior to joining the BBC, she worked for Channel 4 News, Associated Press Television Network and NBC News in London. Karen holds an MA in Law from the University of Bristol, is a marathon-runner and enjoys fashion and southern fried food. She loves music and enjoys a variety of genres – from opera to grime – and has been taking singing lessons and practices her scales on her walk to work. Her father, Alireza Zarindast, is a celebrated director of photography who has made films with Abbas Kiarostomi and Mohsen Makhmalbaf and her mother is a painter. She lives in central London with her husband.