'A Prophet' takes London fest's top prize

Best British newcomer went to screenwriter Jack Thorne

LONDON -- Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" won the inaugural best film nod presented during this year's The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival Wednesday evening.

The best film award, presented by jury chair Anjelica Huston during a formal black tie dinner, was one of two new awards presented by LFF organizers for the first time in the event's history.

Audiard's award was collected by the movie's star Tahar Rahim, who said it was amazing to pick up the nod. Host journalist and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini raised a few eyebrows and smiles when he advised Rahim after winning the nod to enjoy it because his future films are "not all going to turn out this well."

Huston also paused to give a special mention to John Hillcoat's apocalyptic father and son drama "The Road" for its devastating political statement and bleak but important message.

The second inaugural award, for best British newcomer, went to script writer Jack Thorne who penned "The Scouting Book for Boys." Thorne beat out competition from the same film's director Tom Harper to the prize.

Festival regular accolades The Sutherland Trophy and The Times BFI London Film Festival Grierson Award went to Scandar Copti's "Ajami" and "Yoav Shamir's "Defamation" respectively.

All the movies from the two awards unspooled during this year's London Film Festival lineup which closes Thursday night with the world premiere of Sam Taylor Wood's "Nowhere Boy."

Hosted by Gambaccini, the event saw a handpicked crowd from the industry gather for the invite-only ceremony in the capital. Names in the room included Ridley Scott, Michael Caton-Jones, Nick Broomfield, Alfonso Cuaron and on screen talent such as Dominic Cooper and Jodie Whittaker.

Winners of the two new awards and the Sutherland and Grierson Award received a specially commissioned "Star of London" award designed by sculptor Almuth Tebbenhoff.

The highest accolade that the British Film Institute bestows, the BFI Fellowship, this year went to British actor John Hurt and renowned Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cisse.

Cisse, speaking French, thanked the organization for "a truly great honor."

Hurt said the moment that such a unique organization the BFI gives an award was truly emotional and an honor.

This year's jury for the best film award, chaired by Anjelica Huston, comprised John Akomfrah, Jarvis Cocker, Matthieu Kassovitz, Charlotte Rampling and Iain Softley.