As the BFI’s London Film Festival concluded, the Institute named their competition winners for 2015.
The British Film Institute have just wrapped up their 59th London Film Festival and it didn’t disappoint: it’s the UK’s largest public film event with 240 films from 72 countries shown – including a premiere of Danny Boyle’s new biopic Steve Jobs – and it all finished with a high profile awards ceremony at Whitehall’s Banqueting House with guests such as Martin Freeman, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Ian McKellen (who presented the BFI’s fellowship award to Cate Blanchett) in attendance.
Wonderland didn’t miss the opportunity to take full advantage of the festival being on our doorstep, and we managed to catch more films in the past week than some manage in a year. Highlights for us were the coming of age drama Petting Zoo – watch out for Devon Keller as she’s sure to go onto big things after this breakout role – and devastating Holocaust drama Son of Saul, which is a harrowing portrait of one man’s experience of the Final Solution. Also a standout was Official Competition Winner Chevalier, a dryly amusing study of competitive masculinities that concerns six men embarking on a series of challenges whilst stuck on a boat.
The long standing Sutherland Award (which is presented to the director of the most original and imaginative first feature in the Festival) was won by Robert Egger, whose 17th century piece, The Witch, is a chilling and intelligent take on the horror film that takes place in Puritanical New England and confronts the gender implications of the witchcraft mythology. The Documentary competition winner meanwhile, was Sherpa, directed by Jennifer Peedom, which explores the lives and families of the Sherpas and, in the words of the Competition Jury, leaves us “with an appreciation of the sacrifices the Sherpa community has made for over six decades.”
The BFI’s work is always positive, creative and important, so it was wonderful to see that this year’s London Film Festival represented the best of what the Institute does: finding and rewarding unique and exciting filmmaking. If, for some unfortunate reason, you didn’t manage to get to any of the showings this year, make sure you head to the BFI website (or their Southbank building in London) to find out more about what you missed and what to get excited about next.