The 55th London Film Festival reaches its climax tonight with the gala screening of Terence Davies’ screen adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea. Last night, however, was the festival’s occasion to hand out its gongs. Comedian Marcus Brigstocke was the host at the awards ceremony held in LSO St Luke’s and here are the big winners.
Director John Madden, chair of the international jury, and fellow judge Gillian Anderson presented this year’s Best Film award to Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, described by Madden as “a sublime, uncompromising tale of the torment that can stand in the place of love.”
Best British Newcomer
Candese Reid claimed this year’s Best British Newcomer award for her acting role opposite Eddie Marsan in Junkhearts, an indie drama in which a homeless teenager bonds with a lonely 50something ex-soldier. Chair of the jury, Andy Harries described Candese as “a fresh, brilliant and exciting new talent. Every moment she was on screen was compelling.”
Terry Gilliam presented the Sutherland Award for the festival’s most original and imaginative feature debut to Argentinian director Pablo Giorgelli for his film Las Acacias, a slow-burning, uplifting and enchanting story of a truck driver and his passengers. The jury’s verdict: “Finely judged performances and a palpable sympathy for his characters makes this a hugely impressive debut for director Pablo Giorgelli.”
To honour some of the other films shown at this year’s festival, here are some additional gongs we’d like to award.
Shot in black and white, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist, an hilarious, heartfelt homage to silent Hollywood cinema, was the biggest hit with audiences at this year’s festival. Last year, I gave this award to The King’s Speech – will similar Oscar success await The Artist?
Marc Evans’ joyful, uplifting Hunky Dory stars Minnie Driver as an idealistic schoolteacher in 1976 Swansea who decides to mount a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest using contemporary pop songs. Cue versions of numbers by the likes of David Bowie, Nick Drake and ELO. Glee had better look to its laurels.
Grace Under Pressure
The critics had already panned Madonna’s directorial debut W.E. and she reportedly received boos on the red carpet, but inside Leicester Square’s Empire cinema Madge was coolness personified during her film’s gala screening – even if she did confess to nervousness at introducing her film about Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII to London audiences. She even stayed to watch the film and answered Sandra Hebron’s questions on stage afterwards. Then again, given the partisan audience’s totally bonkers reaction to Madonna’s presence, she was hardly in hostile territory.
Speaking of grace under pressure, a special award should surely go to Sandra Hebron herself. The festival’s outgoing artistic director, she’s shown indefatigable energy and enthusiasm, plus taste, tact and diplomacy, throughout her decade in charge. She’ll be much missed.