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Channel 4 to show viewers the world through artists' eyes

Channel 4 is expanding its distinctive 'artist-authored documentary' approach to arts programming with a new strand embedding artists in locations and institutions around the UK and beyond, and a slate of programmes featuring an exciting range of new talent.

Artists in Residence (w/t) will see some of the UK’s leading artists spending time in locations including a sexual health clinic and a Premier League football club and producing new work in response to what they find.

Meanwhile internationally-acclaimed dancer and choreographer Akram Khan will track down some of the most advanced and extraordinary robots in the world, and explore how they're changing our lives.

Random Acts TV returns for a new series with a new presenter: Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat, Dreams of a Life). The strand commissions and curates some 200 creative short films a year and 2017's crop will feature an international mix of new and established artists and filmmakers including David Oyelowo, Hannah Perry and Moonlight’s Patrick Decile as well as new talent discovered and supported through the strand's partnership with Arts Council England.

Finally, an hour-long special will follow the extraordinary micro-sculptor Willard Wigan as he painstakingly crafts microscopic artworks that are virtually invisible to the naked eye.

Speaking at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, John Hay, Head of Specialist Factual and Arts commented: "When it comes to our arts programming, we like to look outwards rather than inwards and to invite artists to show us the rest of the world through their eyes. I'm delighted that we've been able to persuade such a talented, creative and engaged group of them to shed fresh light on the way we live now."

Artists in Residence (w/t)
A new strand that launches with three films, each placing an extraordinary artist in an unlikely setting to create work in response to what they find. The films will follow their creative process as they bring a fresh perspective to their surroundings.

Painter Tai Shan Schierenberg will spend time at West Bromwich Albion football club following the manager, team and fans during next year’s season. Commissioned from Storyvault Films by John Hay; the exec producer is Danielle Graham.

Performance artist and theatre-maker Bryony Kimmings has chosen one of Britain’s busiest sexual health clinics. Bryony will create personalised performance pieces and installations which she will gift to some of the people she meets there. Commissioned from The Garden by John Hay; the exec producer is Zac Beattie

Video artist Rachel Maclean, currently representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale, completes the trio. Her residency will be announced later this year. The film has been commissioned from Firecrest Films by John Hay; the exec producer is Iain Scollay.

Akram and the Robots (w/t),

Akram Khan has spent his career observing the way people move and interact. For his next project he wants to go beyond the human – seeking inspiration from the world’s most incredible robots. Travelling from the UK to Japan and USA, Akram will meet cutting-edge robots, the scientists who’ve created them, and the people that live and work beside robots every day. Uncovering the secrets behind how they move, and communicate with each other and us, Akram will explore the frontier of human-robot relationships, and glimpse a brave new world that’s just around the corner.

At the end of the film, he'll put everything he's found into an exhilarating new piece of dance that captures and anticipates a future of man and machine’s coexistence.

The film will be directed by Hannah Berryman and exec produced by Joe Evans and Neil Crombie for Swan Films. It was commissioned for Channel 4 by John Hay, Head of Specialist Factual and Madonna Benjamin.

Random Acts TV

Zawe Ashton, best known as Vod in the Channel 4 series Fresh Meat, will be the new host of the Random Acts TV series.

This is the third series of the TV show, part of a £6m, 3-year partnership between Channel 4 and Arts Council England, dedicated to finding and backing new filmmaking talent across the country and showcasing the best in creative short film.

In this year’s shorts, David Oyelowo (Selma) reinterprets Shakespeare in Isle Full of Noises, jungle legend Goldie makes his directorial debut with Mountains, award-winning Japanese animator Sarina Nihei sees rabbits do battle in a world of deadpan violence and Patrick Decile (Moonlight) stars in a Miami projects tale of gold grills and dentist’s drills. Zawe Ashton will also debut her own film, Lighthouse, which she wrote, directed and stars in.

Zawe Ashton commented: “It's a pleasure to have been asked to be part of Random Acts this series. As a sprouting filmmaker it's such a unique opportunity to really absorb some of the most interesting short form work from directors with so many different artistic disciplines. The remit for the material is 'too bonkers for broadcast' and that's something I can genuinely get behind in television.”

The World’s Tiniest Masterpieces (w/t)

This 1 x 60 film takes us into the wonderful world of Willard Wigan, a record-breaking micro-sculptor from Birmingham. Wigan painstakingly hand-crafts microscopic artworks from tiny fragments virtually invisible to the naked eye. Some of his creations can only be seen through a microscope, and he's made the world’s smallest ever sculpture - a gold motorbike inside a single piece of beard stubble – which is is 160 microns or 0.1603mm. Now he's creating something even smaller...

Using hand-made tools made from insect claws and human eyelashes, Wigan slows down his breathing and heart-rate to make his miniscule figures. But though his art is tiny, the price tags are huge. He’s working on a £150,000 watch and a million pound painting, and his sculptures command upwards of £40,000 each.

In this, Wigan’s first TV documentary, Channel 4 will explore the remarkable craft behind these mini masterpieces and the people who buy them, as he embarks on his most ambitious project to date.

The film has been commissioned by Rob Coldstream from Yeti Television. The director is Kenny Scott. The exec producer is Sian Price.

Notes to Editors

Little Dot Studios is producing the Random Acts TV series, the third series since the relaunch of the supercharged Random Acts strand in partnership with Arts Council England, which is investing £3m over 3 years and creating a series of Random Acts Network Centres across the country. Each is charged with finding, training and developing 16-24-year-old creatives and giving them the chance to make films for the strand.

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