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Tessa Ross was appointed Head of the U.K.'s Channel 4's film department, Film4, in 2002. In 2004, her purview was expanded to add that of Channel 4's Head of Drama; as such, she is now Controller, Film and Drama.
Under Ms. Ross's stewardship, Film4 has built an enviable reputation for developing and financing films like Walter Salles' Academy Award-winning The Motorcycle Diaries (also a Focus Features release); Roger Michell's Venus, starring Peter O'Toole; Michael Winterbottom's The Road to GuantÃ¡namo; and Kevin Macdonald's Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland, starring Forest Whitaker in his Academy Award-winning performance.
Film4's releases in 2007 included Shane Meadows' This is England (winner of Best Independent Film at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards); Anand Tucker's And When Did You Last See Your Father?, starring Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent; Julien Temple's Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten; and David Mackenzie's award-winning Hallam Foe. In production or soon-to-be-released are Sarah Gavron's Brick Lane; Asif Kapadia's True North; Lenny Abrahamson's Garage; Duane Hopkins' Better Things; Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely, starring Samantha Morton; Ken Loach's It's a Free World; Michael Winterbottom's Genova; Sharon Maguire's Incendiary; Fabrice Du Welz's Donkey Punch; and Mike Leigh's new film Happy-Go-Lucky.
Previously, as Head of Drama at Channel 4 from 2000 to 2002, Ms. Ross successfully introduced the strategies of risk and innovation. Programs and telefilms she commissioned during and since that time include Shameless; Terry Johnson's Not Only But Always; Pete Travis' Omagh; Tom Hooper's Longford (starring Jim Broadbent and Samantha Morton) and Elizabeth I (which won the top prizes at both the Emmy and Golden Globe Awards); and David Yates' Sex Traffic, which won eight BAFTA Awards.
She segued to Channel 4 from the BBC's Independent Commissioning Group, where she was Head of Drama. She held that position from 1993 to 2000, building up an entirely new department with an annual output of 120 hours of film and television drama. Among the works that she commissioned and executive-produced at the BBC ICG were Stephen Frears' Liam and Stephen Daldry's Billy Elliot, which was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Prior to joining the ICG, Ms. Ross spent three years as Head of Development for British Screen. There, she was responsible for commissioning and developing screenplays as well as executive-producing a series of short films funded with Channel 4. She has also worked as a script editor for BBC Scotland's television drama department; and as a literary agent at Anthony Sheila Associates.
She has sat on the British Film Institute production board; was an external examiner for the MA in Screenwriting at the Northern Film School; and is now a governor of the National Film and Television School.