The 61st BFI London Film Festival has finally wrapped up.
After bringing some of the world’s biggest stars to the UK’s capital city for a busy week and a half of films, the festival concluded on Sunday 15th October. Just like every year, the festival concluded with the announcement of the award-winners.
Chosen by a series of movie professionals, the awards represent the best of the festival. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see some of these films honoured at the BAFTAs and the Oscars.
Best Film Award: Loveless – Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
A second-time winner, Andrey Zvyagintsev is known for his previous film Leviathan. That picture also won Best Film in 2014. That movie went on to receive nominations for Best Foreign Language Feature at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs. In addition, it won that award at the Golden Globes.
Loveless tells the story of a Russian couple who are in the middle of a bitter divorce when their 12-year-old son Alexey disappears. The film got critical acclaim for its poignancy and bleak outlook. It also won praise for it’s refusal to patronize or use a heavy-hand in its storytelling.
President of the Official Competition jury, Andrea Arnold said while giving the award:
“We felt that Loveless was a very poetic and beautiful film. Dark and told with a fierce passion. Although the film concentrated on the intimate story of one family in Russia, it felt like a universal tragedy; one that we recognized as one of the world¹s great sadnesses. The film-maker elevated the personal to a social and political statement. A critique of our current psychological and political moment. Some of us felt the film a cautionary tale. An angry warning. And some of us saw it as a rallying call for the opposite of what the film is called.
“We also commend Wajib. We found this to be a very honest, tender and beautifully acted story about a father and son delivering wedding invitations to their relatives. Sometimes funny and often sad we loved the glimpse into the lives of ordinary Christian Arabs in Nazareth. And through the intimacy between father and son, the film explored the clash of old and new in a fast changing world. A call for patience, respect and understanding”.
The Sutherland Award for Best First Feature: The Wound – Directed by John Trengrove
John Trengrove’s feature has been touring the film festival circuit for a while now, picking up praise along the way. The film is about a closeted relationship between two men in the context of a Xhosa initiation ritual in the mountains on South Africa’s East Cape. Critics have noted its exploration of masculinity means and the weight of unexpressed desire.
Presenting the award, jury president, composer and producer, Melissa Parmenter said:
“Among a strong field of debut features, we found ourselves enamoured by the urgency, vitality and originality of The Wound. Director John Trengove and his terrific cast have created a dynamic and inimitable coming-of-age story that takes a heart-breaking look at masculinity and sexuality.
“We would also like to give a special mention to the dreamlike Summer 1993, a beautiful and personal film, impressively and sensitively crafted. Its director and screenwriter Carla Simón is an exciting emerging filmmaker to watch”.
Notably, The Wound is South Africa’s entry for the Best Foreign Feature prize at the Oscars. This certainly might not be the last time we hear of their film.
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary: The Kingdom Of Us – Directed by Lucy Cohen
Netflix might have missed out on winning any Emmys this year, but here’s an award they can take home!
The Kingdom Of Us is a film around the real-life tragedy of one family. In 2007, Vikie Shanks from Warwickshire lost her husband Paul to suicide. The couple had seven children, five of them somewhere on the autism spectrum. The wake of her husband’s death, Shanks discovered he had accrued debts of around £1m. She had to deal with this while also raising a family and running a business.
The film was originally set to be about autism, but the scope gradually widened during production. It cuts together family videos with interviews with the Shanks’ about the impact of the loss of their father.
President of the jury, the BAFTA & Academy Award®-winning documentary producer, John Battsek, on their behalf said:
“In a strong and diverse documentary selection, Lucy Cohen’s impressive debut Kingdom of Us equally fascinated and moved us all. It captures an extraordinary level of family intimacy in its delicate exploration of grief and memory.
“We would like to specially commend the poignant yet beautiful Makala, which examines third world poverty in simple and unflinching way, and also the thoroughly enjoyable, charming, inventive hybrid Before Summer Ends – this French road trip with three expat Iranians really touched and delighted the jury”.
The Kingdom Of Us is already available on Netflix.
Best Short Film Award: The Rabbit Hunt – Directed by Patrick Bresnan
While the other awards of the festival have been going on for a long time, the Best Short Film Award is still in its infancy. 2017 marked the third Best Short Film Award.
The Rabbit Hunt follows one family as they hunt the wild rabbits fleeing from the sugar cane harvest in Florida’s Everglades.
Presenting the award was jury President, the Academy Award® and BAFTA-winning animation director and illustrator, Michael Dudok de Wit, who said:
“We were unanimously impressed by Patrick Bresnan’s verité documentary The Rabbit Hunt. The film is a thrilling look at one family’s otherwise everyday hustle, and is proof that farm-to-table eating doesn’t have to be a bourgeoisie exercise. We admired its agility, its confidence and its refusal to judge its enterprising subjects, and are excited to see what Bresnan does next.
“We are also giving a special mention to Scaffold, for its assured simplicity and economy of storytelling; Martin Cries (Martin Pleure), for its inventiveness in transforming the ultraviolent video game Grand Theft Auto V into a tone poem about loneliness; and to Deborah Zebeda, for her magnetic performance in Laws Of The Game”.
Will we hear of these films again?
At least some of these movies will almost certainly feature at the Academy Awards on March 4th 2018.
The Wound will probably get a nomination for Best Foreign Feature. In addition, it’d be surprising if Loveless didn’t get a nod in the Best Foreign Language Feature category.
Unfortunately, with the exception of The Kingdom Of Us, none of these films seem particularly likely to see a mass-release. If you do wish to see them, keep an eye out for screening at local independent and arthouse cinemas!