The UK Film Council has announced that it is giving £3million of funding to support the production of new films by some well-known names on the British arts scene.

Contemporary artist Sam Taylor-Wood, possibly best-known for her art films featuring men crying, will receive around £1.2milion Lottery cash to make Nowhere Boy, a biopic of John Lennon. It is her first feature film. Meanwhile, Daniel Barber, Oscar-nominated for his 2008 short The Tonto Woman, is also receiving over £1million, to make Harry Brown, his feature debut.

Meanwhile a new feature, 1939, directed by established helmer Stephen Poliakoff, will also receive close to £1million.

Daniel Barber's Harry Brown stars Sir Michael Caine as a retired Marine and a widower who lives alone, with only his best friend Leonard (David Bradley) for company. When Leonard is brutally murdered by a vicious gang of thugs, Harry feels compelled to act and is forced to dispense his own brand of justice.

Academy Award® winner Sir Michael Caine (The Dark Knight, The Italian Job) is joined by Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl, The Pink Panther), Charlie Creed-Miles (The Fifth Element), and Liam Cunningham (Hunger, The Wind That Shakes the Barley), with support from a group of up-and-coming British talent.

Harry Brown was written by Gary Young (Shooters, Spivs) and director of photography is Martin Ruhe (Control). The film is produced by Kris Thykier (The Debt), Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass) and Keith Bell (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, The Tournament). Harry Brown is a MARV production and is financed by Prescience, the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund and Framestore. Tim Smith and Paul Brett are executive producing for Prescience and Steve Norris for Framestore. HanWay is handling all international sales on the film, and it will be distributed in the UK by Lionsgate. The film started shooting on 26 January for seven weeks on location in London and at Elstree Studios.

A revered contemporary artist and photographer, Taylor-Wood’s debut short film Love You More was nominated for the Palme d’Or Award at Cannes in 2008. Adapted with support from the UK Film Council’s Development Fund, Nowhere Boy sheds new light on the previously untold story of John Lennon’s early life and relationship with his mother and aunt.

Talented newcomer Aaron Johnson will play the young Lennon, whilst Academy Award® nominated actress Kristin Scott Thomas will play Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, and Anne-Marie Duff will play his mother Julia. The screenplay was written by Matt Greenhalgh, winner of the BAFTA Carl Foreman Award in 2007 for Control, and based on the book by John’s sister, Julia Baird, entitled Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon. The film will be produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae for Ecosse Films (Brideshead Revisited, The Waterhorse, Becoming Jane) and Kevin Loader (Venus, The Mother).

Nowhere Boy is an Ecosse Films production in association with Film4, the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund, NorthWest Vision and Media, Lip Sync Productions and Aver Media. The script was developed with the support of the UK Film Council’s Development Fund. HanWay Films are handling worldwide sales and have pre-sold multiple territories prior to casting including acquisitions by Icon for the UK and Australia and Mars Distribution for France who will release the film in 2010. The film will commence shooting on location in Liverpool and at Ealing Studios in March.

1939, the tense psychological thriller from Stephen Poliakoff (Capturing Mary, Joe’s Palace, Gideon's Daughter, The Lost Prince) which marks the writer/director’s return to theatrical film after a break of a decade, is also being backed by the Premiere Fund with £970,000 of Lottery funding.

Set between the present day and the murky world of political intrigue in England just before the outbreak of World War II, 1939 centres around the Keyes family who are keen to uphold and preserve their very traditional, English way of life, as they struggle with the tension and uncertainty in the lead up to conflict.

Eldest sibling Anne (Romola Garai) is a budding young actress in love with Foreign Office official Lawrence (Charlie Cox). Anne’s seemingly perfect life begins to dramatically unravel when she stumbles across secret recordings of the anti-appeasement movement. Whilst trying to uncover the origin of these recordings, a tangled web of dark secrets begins to unfurl, along with a growing sense of menace. As war breaks out Anne escapes to London to try to confirm her suspicions. Only then does she begin to discover the true extent to which she has been betrayed.

1939 boasts an outstanding cast of established and new British talent, including award-winning actress Romola Garai (Atonement), BAFTA-winning actor Bill Nighy (Notes on a Scandal, Love Actually), multi award-winning actress Julie Christie (The Secret Life of Words, Finding Neverland, Away From Her), Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings, Golden Compass), Eddie Redmayne (The Other Boleyn Girl), Juno Temple (Wild Child), David Tennant (Dr Who), Charlie Cox (Stardust) and Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park).

The film has completed shooting on location in Norfolk and London. 1939 is a talkbackTHAMES production in association with Magic Light Pictures, funded by BBC Films, the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund and Screen East Content Investment Fund. 1939 also marks the first film to receive financing from Quickfire Films, in collaboration with The Works Media Group. The UK's Momentum Pictures has acquired Theatrical and Home Entertainment rights. The film will be released this year to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Second World War.

Sally Caplan, Head of the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund, says; “It’s very exciting to be supporting debut feature films from talented newcomers Daniel Barber and Sam Taylor-Wood, as well as being a part of Stephen Poliakoff’s long-awaited return to the big screen. These are three very different and unique projects which all have contemporary relevance to audiences today and we are very pleased to be backing each of them.”