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The great and the good of the British film industry were out in force on Saturday night for the BFI London Film Festival’s glittering awards ceremony at the U.K. capital’s grand Banqueting House.
The penultimate night of the 12-day event saw Kelly Reichardt‘s Sundance hit Certain Women, starring Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Michelle Williams, take home the best film award, announced by jury president Athina Rachel Tsangari, whose drama Chevalier had won the same prize at last year’s fest. Other prizes went to Julia Ducournau for her French cannibalism horror Raw, which claimed the Sutherland Award for best first feature, and Iranian filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei’s Starless Dreams, which took home the the Grierson Award for best documentary.
With Michael Sheen playing host, Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Anna Friel and David Tennant were on hand to introduce the individual awards.
The ceremony closed with a standing ovation for Steve McQueen, who was presented with the BFI Fellowship, the British Film Institute’s highest honor.
Josh Berger, the Warner Bros. exec attending his first awards as BFI chair, described McQueen as one of the “most influential filmmakers and artists in the past 25 years,” while Michael Fassbender, who gave a speech before welcoming his long-term collaborator to the stage, said he was a “provocateur, a voyeur, a Londoner and a geezer,” adding that he counted himself blessed to have worked “under the tutelage of one of cinema’s all-time greats.”
On accepting the BFI Fellowship, McQueen attributed his acclaimed career to a free university education, which he said had allowed him to experiment in his chosen field and opened doors for a working-class boy.
“I had freedom because society allowed me to have that freedom,” he said. “It seems that that freedom is being slowly eradicated. It’s our job to fight to keep those doors open.”
The London Film Festival closes Sunday with the European premiere of Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire.
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