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It is the first time a best film award has been decided on by a jury from a field of 12 Competition titles.The films were selected by BFI head of exhibition and festival director Clare Stewart together with the fest’s programming team.
The jury, headed by president David Hare — screenwriter, playwright, film and theatre director — also boasted input from: veteran Hong Kong film producer Nansun Shi; Argentine director Pablo Trapero; Victoria Pearman, producer of Crossfire Hurricane and president of Mick Jagger‘s Jagged films; and the British actress Romola Garai.
Hare said: “Jacques Audiard has a unique handwriting, made up of music, montage, writing, photography, sound, visual design and acting. He is one of only a very small handful of filmmakers in the world who has mastered, and can integrate, every element of the process to one purpose: making, in Rust and Bone, a film full of heart, violence and love.”
Audiard’s film stars Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts and details the love between a man and a woman who has suffered a terrible accident. It played in Competition during the Festival de Cannes, but walked away from that event empty-handed.
The London jury also “admired and commended” other Competition titles such as Michel Franco‘s After Lucia for its “terrifying portrayal of school bullying” and Pablo Larraín‘s “highly original” No for spotlighting controversial advertising techniques that contributed to the end of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Benh Zeitlin‘s Beasts of the Southern Wild, the critically acclaimed portrayal of life on the edge of the world, walked away with the evening’s Sutherland Award for best first feature.
Former Edinburgh International Film Festival director Hannah McGill, presiding over the Sutherland award jury, said jurists praised Anand Gandhi’s “incredibly ambitious Ship of Theseus, for tickling our intellect and showing us rarely-seen facets of Indian life” and also awarded high marks to Haifaa Al-Mansour‘s Wadjda, “a profound but wickedly funny take on Saudi Arabia’s assault on female autonomy.” But Zeitlin’s “daringly vast, richly detailed film” stood out, she said.
Alex Gibney‘s Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, walked off with the evening’s best documentary prize.
The award, co-presented with the Grierson Trust, aims to recognize feature-length documentaries of integrity, originality, technical excellence or cultural significance.
Gibney’s film, a damning indictment of the Catholic Church and attempts by the Vatican to cover up one of the most appalling scandals of our times, hit the right notes with all jury members.
Roger Graef, president of the jury described Mea Maxima Culpa as “the unanimous choice of the judges.”
Said Graef: “It was a life-changing film that was made with real integrity. The use of deaf men for interviews finally telling their story was both very distinctive and respectful. The journalism showed an extraordinary paper trail of events leading right to the Vatican in an incredibly compelling manner. It deeply affected the judges who said ‘it sat in the gut.'”
The evening’s fourth high-profile award was for best British newcomer, with jury president and Harry Potter producer David Heyman mulling the challengers with fellow jurors Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman, author Kazuo Ishiguru and director Eran Creevy.
The win went to director-screenwriter Sally EI Hosaini for her “vibrant and original” debut feature My Brother The Devil.
Heyman said El Hosaini’s writing displayed “a remarkable maturity” and possessed a “wonderful emotional truth.”
Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton were also on hand to each receive the British Film Institute’s highest accolade, the BFI Fellowship.
BFI chairman Greg Dyke described Burton as “one of the most creative and visionary directors” while Carter is “one of our finest British actresses.”
Said Dyke: “I also want to congratulate all the filmmakers honored with nominations this year, for their vision, skill, passion and creativity.”
The 56th BFI London Film Festival 2012 Awards were dished out at a special ceremony in central London hosted by writer, broadcaster and comedienne Sue Perkins.
Mike Newell‘s Great Expectations, starring Bonham Carter, closes the festival Sunday while Burton’s stop motion 3D animation Frankenweenie opened the annual shindig on Oct. 10.
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