Manchester, 2011

Channel 4 has commissioned four documentary films for their First Cut strand.

“Channel 4 has a reputation for helping launch new British talent both on and off-screen, and we’re particularly proud of the impact First Cut has made in its six years. These new films will follow in the tradition of unflinching and unique storytelling from some of the nation’s most accomplished new directors.” – David Brindley, commissioner for the First Cut strand

First Cut showcases original and bold documentaries by first-time directors as part of Channel 4’s continuous commitment to nurturing new and diverse talent. The upcoming films will chronicle stories from 21st Century Britain: from a spate of mysterious deaths in Manchester’s waterways, to the lives of some of the UK’s OAP bodybuilders. Each has been made by filmmakers making their first full hour-length productions for national television.

BriteSpark Films have submitted The Pusher, a film which looks at waterway deaths in Manchester. In the last six years, the remains of over 60 individuals have been recovered from the canals of Greater Manchester; most are young men. Now headlines have claimed a serial killer, dubbed by locals as ‘The Pusher’, could be at large in the city. This film from Darren Lovell will explore the truth behind the Twitter rumours pointing to this alleged serial murderer. Meeting the bereaved looking for answers and the experts placing pressure on authorities to open an investigation, this complex film explores the facts at the heart of a 21st Century urban mystery.

While in Bus Pass Body Builders Popkorn TV tracks the hopes and dreams of Britain’s oldest muscle men and women as they follow five fascinating characters in the lead up to the World Finals in Miami. In today’s rapidly changing world, this film takes an alternative look at what it is like to be a pensioner in 2015. From Freedom Passes to family feuds, OAP dating to DIY tanning, we explore our ageing population in Britain through the eyes of those refusing to grow up.

Muslim Drag Queens from Swan Films is a compelling and powerful documentary which allows unprecedented insight into the clandestine gay Asian or ‘Gaysian’ community in the UK. This community provides a vital lifeline and haven for young men who are unable to publically reconcile their sexuality with their cultural identity and traditions. Homosexuality is widely deemed to be forbidden within Islam and the exhibitionist nature of drag remains one of the ultimate taboos for many British Asians – forcing the entire scene underground. This sensitively-made film focusses on the stories of three of the 100-150 Muslim Drag Queens who face the seemingly insurmountable challenge of gaining acceptance and tolerance within their own wider communities. The film is narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.

Finally filmmaker Leonardo Machado charts the story of a man fighting to rebuild his life after a devastating infection took his limbs, parts of his face and his independence in Alex Man. Father Alex Lewis came down with a common cold in late 2013 which quickly developed into septicaemia and toxic shock syndrome. With less than a 3% chance of survival, doctors fought to save Alex. From arriving back to his family home and readjusting his relationships, to taking his first steps, this film delves into some of the raw moments that shape his days. Starting just days after he lost his last limb, Machado follows Alex’s incredible journey as he seeks his purpose in life, rebuilds his relationships and reinvents himself.
Pictured: Manchester’s happier water, the garden fountains.
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