The 59th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® announced this year’s Festival Awards’ winners at its high profile Awards ceremony, at Banqueting House, Whitehall, yesterday evening.
Hosted by musician and broadcaster Jarvis Cocker, guests included Alex Cooke, Allen Leech, Brian Woods, Christine Vachon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daisy Jacobs, Desiree Akhavan, Elizabeth Karlsen, Finola Dwyer, Harriet Walter, Iain Forsyth, James Vanderbilt, James Kent, Jane Pollard, Joe Wright, Kate Dickie, Kathleen Kennedy, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Mabel Cheung, Martin Freeman, Patricia Cheng, Pawel Pawlikowski, Runa Islam, Shezad Dawood, Sandy Powell, Sylvia Chang, Stephen Woolley, Topher Grace, and Ian McKellen, who presented the BFI Fellowship to this year’s recipient Cate Blanchett.
OFFICIAL COMPETITION WINNER – BEST FILM: CHEVALIER – Athina Rachel Tsangari
Recognising inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, the winner of the Best Film Award, went to Tsangari’s CHEVALIER, a biting, playful dissection of the male ego, featuring six men on a boat. The award was announced by president of the Official Competition jury, Pawel Pawlikowski, whose Ida won the LFF Best Film prize in 2013.
Pawel Pawlikowski said “Chevalier is a study of male antagonism seen through the eyes of a brave and original filmmaker. With great formal rigour and irresistible wit, Athena Rachel Tsangari has managed to make a film that is both a hilarious comedy and a deeply disturbing statement on the condition of western humanity”.
FIRST FEATURE COMPETITION WINNER – SUTHERLAND AWARD: Robert Eggers for THE WITCH
The long-standing Sutherland Award is presented to the director of the most original and imaginative first feature in the Festival, and this year’s winner is Robert Eggers’ THE WITCH about a 17th century New England family torn apart by tension and the suspicion of witchcraft. The nominations were introduced by actor Allen Leech and the winner announced by jury president, director/screenwriter Desiree Akhavan, whose feature debut, Appropriate Behaviour featured in the 2014 LFF programme.
DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION WINNER – GRIERSON AWARD: SHERPA, directed by Jennifer Peedom
The Grierson Award for the best documentary recognises outstanding feature-length documentaries of integrity, originality, technical excellence or cultural significance. The award went to Peedom’s gripping and urgent documentary which indelibly captures tragedy and mayhem on Mount Everest. Grierson trustee and documentary filmmaker Alex Cooke announced the winner.
SHORT FILM COMPETITION WINNER – BEST SHORT FILM AWARD: AN OLD DOG’S DIARY, directed by Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel
This year saw the inaugural presentation of the Best Short Film Award which recognises short form works with a unique cinematic voice and confident handling of chosen theme and content. The award went to AN OLD DOG’S DIARY, a lyrical film portrait of Francis Newton Souza, one of the key Indian artists of the 20th-century, inspired by his personal writings, letters, drawings and possessions., the award was presented by Shezad Dawood and Daisy Jacobs and collected by Chantal and Dev Pinto of the Xandev Foundation on behalf of directors Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel.
BFI FELLOWSHIP Cate Blanchett (as previously announced)
This year’s BFI Fellowship was presented to Cate Blanchett by her friend and co-star of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films Ian McKellen.
Earlier in the evening Blanchett attended the UK Premiere of TRUTH, which screened as the Fellowship Special Presentation film in honour of the award. Based on the book “Truth and Duty” by Mary Mapes, TRUTH tells the incredible story of Mary Mapes, an award-winning CBS News journalist and Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes producer and the risks she took to expose a story on the then-President George W. Bush.
Blanchett also attended the Festival for Todd Haynes’ CAROL, presented as this year’s American Express Gala.