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The Mother Tongues Award is now closed.
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We are looking for feature films at treatment or script stage that are set mainly in the UK, written by UK-based filmmakers. The film dialogue must mainly be in a language other than English, but the submission materials may be written in English at this stage. We are open to any non-English language, whether native to the UK (e.g. Welsh, Scots, Irish, BSL, etc) or from another country (e.g: Spanish, Mandarin, Punjabi, Yoruba, etc). Typically, applicants will either speak the relevant language(s) themselves, or have strong connections to it through their heritage or personal circumstances. 


Following the open call and at least one round of interviews, we will make available a minimum of one development award of £10,000. It is possible that we will be interested in more than one project, or that we award one project more than the minimum commitment, which will be at our discretion. We are also offering producer development support to the chosen project(s) with the aim of moving them into production. Our sales partner Charades will have a first look to acquire international sales rights and our distribution partner Curzon will have first look to acquire UK rights on the developed film(s). 


The successful applicant(s) will be required to sign a development agreement with Mother Tongues Films Limited before receipt of funds, and all rights will be assigned under this agreement. We will own the work(s) that we commission, subject to an industry standard turnaround provision. The money awarded will be recoupable with a premium from the production budget of any film based on the work.

Who can apply?

The Mother Tongues Award is open to writers, writer-directors, and writer and director teams. Each member of your team must be ordinarily resident in the UK and be able to qualify as British for the Film Cultural Test.  


To be eligible, a writer applying on their own must either: 

  • Have had a short at a BAFTA or Oscar qualifying festival (see links).

  • OR made work in the same role that you're applying as which won awards at any three festivals (or more). 

  • OR had a feature film that was theatrically released in at least one country.  

  • OR been nominated in a short or feature film category for your country’s national film awards (e.g. BAFTA in the UK, the CESARS in France, Blue Dragon Film Awards in South Korea etc.)

  • OR have been selected for development on iFeatures, Microwave, Berlinale Talents, Torino Filmlab, Hubert Bals Fund, Biennale College Cinema, Binger Labs, Cinematic (through Film Wales) or Sundance Institute Labs.

  • OR have a narrative short film or feature that has achieved over 100k views online.

  • OR have a relevant credit on a broadcast TV drama in any country.

  • OR had a theatre play re-booked for a second run or toured internationally.


If the writer and director are separate people then it is the director who must meet these entry requirements (or preferably both applicants).  


We welcome applications from people who are at more advanced stages of their careers. 



1st November 2020: Applications open


1st December 2020: Applications close


Week of 8th March 2021: Shortlist announced


Week of 15th March 2021: Workshop day


Week of 22nd March 2021: Interviews


Early April 2021: Selected project(s) announced


All dates referred to in these guidelines are subject to revision at Mother Tongues Films Limited’s discretion. In the event that a date changes, we will endeavour to let participants know as soon as possible.

How to apply?

You must fill in the application form with the following information in English, and email to

  • Title

  • Short synopsis (max 300 words)

  • Statement: what language(s) is your story in and why? (max 300 words) Please specify if you speak the language, and why  you want to tell the story in this language.

  • Story Outline (min 1500 words). If you already have a longer treatment or draft screenplay you would like us to consider instead, please email it to us alongside your application form. 

  • Biography and filmography of applicant (max 1,000 words). Please specify at least 1 work that makes you eligible for the scheme, and include a link to at least 1 work. If your eligible work was for TV, theatre or attendance at a lab, please provide a link to a public webpage which provides evidence of this. If you're applying as a writer and director team, please include both biographies. In this case, it is at least the director who must meet the entry requirements, or preferably both applicants.

***Please note: We need access to all of these materials at application stage but we cannot guarantee that we will review everything for every applicant***.


Due to the high volume of submissions that we expect to receive, we regret that we are unable to give feedback to applicants who do not make the shortlist.  We will aim to let all applicants know their status by email prior to announcing the shortlist. 

What happens next?

We will announce a shortlist of projects and invite the shortlisted applicants to interview with a panel which will include representatives of the partner companies. 


Prior to the interviews, we will invite the shortlisted applicants to a one-day workshop that will be tailored to the finalists' needs. This workshop will be a chance to develop projects and skills further, and to network. 


Following the interviews, we will make our decisions on which project(s) to offer development funding. Successful applicant(s) will then enter a development period with an agreed timeframe for delivery of their next writing steps to Mother Tongues Films. Once the work has been delivered, Mother Tongues Films will review the status of the project(s). A meeting will be scheduled at which Mother Tongues Films will feedback and advise on the next steps, which may include (but are not limited to): work to commence raising production finance; work to raise further development finance; putting the project into turnaround.  


These decisions will be at the discretion of Mother Tongues Films but the reasons for these decisions will be discussed with the selected applicants.

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