Edinburgh Film Fest Ups Cash Prize

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Duncan Jones won Edinburgh's Michael Powell Award in 2009 for "Moon."

The U.K.'s annual international movie shindig pledges $32,000 to its main prize, the Michael Powell Award for best British feature.

LONDON – Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) organizers have upped the prize money for the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film to $32,000 (£20,000) for 2014. In addition, the festival also will see the return of the award for best documentary feature film after a three-year hiatus.

The increase for the Michael Powell Award at the 2014 festival, which runs June 18 through 29, makes it one of the largest cash prizes up for grabs at a U.K. film festival and re-affirms the festival’s pledge to support and nurture homegrown talent. The Michael Powell Award, named after one of Britain’s most original filmmakers, was inaugurated at EIFF in 1990 to honor imagination and creativity in British filmmaking. It is regarded as a mark of prestige both within the U.K. film industry and internationally.

Films will be eligible from across the program at the discretion of artistic director Chris Fujiwara and will be judged by an international jury.

Previous winners include Moon (directed by Duncan Jones), Priest (Antonia Bird), Somers Town (Shane Meadows), Tsotsi (Gavin Hood), My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski), Young Adam (David Mackenzie), Jude (Michael Winterbottom) and Blue (Derek Jarman).

EIFF has championed documentary films ever since the festival’s inception in 1947, and one of the first major filmmakers to have his work shown at the festival was John Grierson, a founder of the British documentary movement. The re-introduction of the best doc award for in 2014 reinforces the festival’s long-standing support of documentaries and reflects the high number of entries the festival receives every year from documentary filmmakers. Feature-length documentaries from around the world will be eligible for the award and its cash purse of $16,000 (£10,000). Past winners include films from Alex Gibney, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, James Marsh, Lucy Walker and Morgan Spurlock.

Fujiwara said, “EIFF is committed to supporting the U.K. film industry, and as a sign of the strength of our commitment, we’re delighted to be able to increase the prize money for the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film in 2014. At a time when so many directors of vision are emerging in the U.K., we hope that the strengthening of the award -- named after one of the greatest visionaries in film history, from whatever country -- will act as a further impetus to the artistic renewal of British cinema."

Fujiwara added that reinstating the doc nod is itself a nod to the festival's beginnings and to the sheer number of quality films being submitted, "which is currently pioneering new ways of imagining the world while insisting with urgency, creativity and vigor on the vital relationship between film and reality."