The BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express today announces the winners of this year’s LFF Awards. The competition sections are a celebration of the most exciting, innovative new films and cinematic storytelling; creative, beautiful and often provocative, the nominees showcased an incredible range of talent from across the world. The winning films explore a fascinating breadth of themes and stories, from an irreverent Austrian empress to an unsettling thriller about life during Pinochet’s brutal coup and the tale of two brothers caring for the birds of pollution ravaged Delhi.
The winners of this year’s films screening in competition are:
- Corsage – Marie Kreutzer, wins Best Film Award in Official Competition
- 1976 – Manuela Martelli, wins Sutherland Award in First Feature Competition
- All That Breathes – Shaunak Sen, wins Grierson Award in Documentary Competition
- As Mine Exactly – Charlie Shackleton, wins Immersive Art and XR Award
- I Have No Legs, and I Must Run – Yue Li, wins Short Film Award in Short Film Competition
Placing audiences at the heart of the festival, there is also the popular Audience Award with feature and short categories, the latter of which is introduced for the first time this year. This year’s Audience Award winners are:
- Blue Bag Life – Lisa Selby, Rebecca Hirsch Lloyd-Evans, Alex Fry, wins Audience Award - Feature
- Drop Out – Ade Femzo, wins Audience Award - Short
The winners were announced during an online ceremony by the jury presidents on the final day of the BFI London Film Festival. As in-person screenings come to an end, the festival continues on BFI Player until 23 October with a selection of 20 features, including First Feature Award winner 1976, available to rent online, while the Short Film Competitions titles including Best Short winner I Have No Legs, and I Must Run and Audience Award Short Film Drop Out, are available to stream on BFI Player for free until 23 October.
This year’s jury presidents were: Tanya Seghatchian (Official Competition), Nana Mensah (First Feature Competition), Roberto Minervini (Documentary Competition), Misan Harriman (Immersive and XR Competition) and Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (Short Film Competition).
Official Competition (Best Film Award)
Corsage – Marie Kreutzer
Christmas, 1877. Empress Elizabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) is turning 40. Renowned for her beauty, she undertakes daily privations to ensure she fits her wasp-waist corset and keeps her picture-perfect looks. Suffocating in the stuffy Hapsburg court, she finds herself incapable of continuing to conform to the decorative role that is expected of her, instead carrying out desperate acts of rebellion. With echoes of Spencer and Marie Antoinette, Kreutzer delivers a refreshing take on one woman’s emancipation. Taking liberties with history and adding some fabulous anachronisms (including an evocative soundtrack by Camille), Corsage finds a perfect balance between melancholy understatement and liberating punkish attitude. Krieps is sublime, the depth and nuances of her performance underpinning her character’s complexity. (It won her the Best Actress award in Un Certain Regard at Cannes.) The Empress doesn’t care about being likeable and Krieps interprets her eccentricity and impulsiveness with great verve.
The Official Competition jury said:
“The best film award recognises inspiring and distinctive filmmaking that capture the very essence of cinema. Before announcing the best film award the jury would like to commend the pure cinematic language and formal mastery of Godland and for the immersive atmosphere it creates.
“The best film award goes to Marie Kreutzer’s masterfully realised film Corsage for its mesmerising and original interpretation of the life of the Austrian Empress Elisabeth. The jury was completely seduced by Vicky Krieps’ sublime performance of a woman out of time trapped in her own iconography and her rebellious yearning for liberation.”
Marie Kreutzer said: “I want to say thank you to the members of the jury for choosing our film and giving us this beautiful award… For me this award, which is an award for the film, is not only my award it belongs to all of us. The most beautiful thing about my job is to collaborate with so many great creatives and artists and create something together day by day without knowing how it will turn out… For all of us I’m so happy that it turned out so well and that people love the film so much…This award is for everyone on my team. It’s hard to find the right words right now, I’m happy!”
First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award)
1976 – Manuela Martelli
Carmen is overseeing renovations to the family’s summer beach home when she witnesses a forced disappearance. Visited by the local priest, she finds her understanding of the present shift as a climate of uncertainty and paranoia increasingly takes over her life. Can she be sure she is not being watched? As Pinochet is heard on a TV broadcast justifying his brutal presidential approach, so Carmen finds her daily existence governed by an increasing sense of fear. Former actor Martelli (Machuca, Two Shots Fired) delivers a taut thriller about the ways in which a dictatorship exerts its influence, all grounded in an outstanding performance by Aline Küppenheim as the chain-smoking, pill-popping Carmen, whose elegant, composed exterior masks secrets and discontents.
The First Feature jury said:
“We would like to give a commendation to Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq, an intimate family drama that beautifully addresses the vice grip of the patriarchy and other pressing social issues in modern day Lahore, Pakistan with breathtaking technical flair. The jury was taken with Joyland’s sumptuous visual language and its deft and tender performances. It is an extremely important film that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in filmmaking.
“Our winner is 1976, directed by Manuela Martelli. A captivating work that centres a Chile at the dawn of the Pinochet dictatorship, 1976 is an historic film that is chillingly relevant to our time. Spouses, friends and neighbours become softly radicalised under the threat of violence and an increasing atmosphere of paranoia. It is a quietly simmering political thriller with elements of noir— Martelli’s taut and refined style expertly wields menace through meticulous framing and skilful use of lighting. It is a remarkable debut, original and imaginative in its symbolism, attention to detail, and profound performances.”
Manuela Martelli said: “I am so happy and honoured to receive this award, I want to thank the festival for selecting and showing the film and I want to thank the jury as well. This prize means a lot to me, I spent many years working on this film and I want to dedicate it to the whole crew and to my grandmother who was an inspiration.”
Documentary Competition (Grierson Award)
All That Breathes– Shaunak Sen
Nadeem and Saud rescue injured kites and vultures – considered impure because they eat carrion – which struggle to survive in Delhi’s contaminated environment. An overcrowded, garbage-strewn street in a middle-class neighbourhood of Delhi might seem an improbable backdrop for a profound meditation on the relationship between humans and nature. But within this world, Sen constructs a dreamscape that is as magnificent as it is inclusive. From sweeping shots of kites in flight to following scurrying rats and swarms of flies, All That Breathes makes a moving case for no living creature being too insignificant or unworthy of attention, love and care.
The Documentary Competition jury said:
“The Grierson Jury would like to give a special commendation to a film which through its complex layering and a structure almost musical in form commands a place for non-fiction filmmaking outside the demands of narrative. The special commendation goes to What About China by Trinh Minh-ha.
“The winner of this year’s award is a film that through an intimate lens reveals the beauty of kinship and the struggle for survival in a time of increasing social and environmental collapse. This masterful work is thrilling evidence of the present and future of non-fiction filmmaking. This is pure cinema. The winner of the 2022 Grierson Award is All That Breathes by Shaunak Sen. Congratulations.”
Shaunak Sen said: “The film has very deep connections to the UK and London in particular, our wonderful producers are all based in London, attending the screenings at the London Film Festival was excellent personally for me because apart from the responses from the packed houses also it became a warm gathering of other crew members… Most importantly while the awards are fabulous as a kind of recognition for the work we have put in, it feels special because what awards like this do is give traction to the truly singular work that our protagonists, the brothers Nadeem and Saud, do. I’m absolutely thrilled and so so happy.”
Immersive Art and XR Competition
As Mine Exactly – Charlie Shackleton
Blending virtual reality, performance and film, documentarian Shackleton reaches for nothing short of a new genre as he shares his deeply personal story with one visitor at a time. Using fragments of original footage and images from his childhood, he revisits memories with his mother that shaped his young teenage life, streaming them live into a VR headset. In a fully immersive experience, Shackleton (Beyond Clueless, The Afterlight) narrates the story live. The result has tremendous intimacy and emotional impact.
The Immersive Art and XR Competition jury said:
“The Immersive Art and XR Award recognises the most innovative work from artists and creators who are boldly exploring the intersection of art, film and expanded reality. The jury would like to give special commendations to In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats and On the Morning You Wake (To The End of the World). In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats impressed us with its technical achievement in immersion, pushing forward the documentary form. We found On the Morning You Wake (To The End of the World) a terrifying and incredibly impactful work that humanises fear and is a powerful exploration into the destructive power of humanity.
“Our ultimate winner for the Immersive Art and XR Award is Charlie Shackleton’s As Mine Exactly, a work that, with its blend of performance and virtual reality, creates an extraordinary level of intimacy. Charlie’s piece is a showcase in love and empathy that all jurors were deeply moved by.”
Charlie Shackleton said: “I’ve just completed my 39th performance of As Mine Exactly this week – with 13 left to go and I’ve just heard that I’ve won the award and I’m completely honoured and overjoyed so thank you so much to the festival, Tricia and the whole team at the LFF for having me and taking a chance on quite a logistically complicated piece of work and most of all to the jurors for giving me this award. I can’t wait to keep performing it for more and more people.”
Short Film Competition (Short Film Award)
I Have No Legs, and I Must Run – Yue Li
A major athlete has an injury and a talented new recruit raises the spectre of jealousy.
The Short Film Competition jury said:
“The Short Film Award recognises short-form works that possess a unique cinematic voice and confident handling of their chosen theme and content. The jury would like to give a special commendation to A Sod State as we loved its propulsive, punk energy. However, our ultimate winner for the Best Short Film Award is I Have No Legs, And I Must Run by Yue Li: a hugely cinematic and fully-formed short which felt accomplished in every facet of its filmmaking. This film captivated us with its gripping soundtrack, and left us all wanting more.”
Audience Award – Feature
Blue Bag Life – Lisa Selby, Rebecca Hirsch Lloyd-Evans, Alex Fry
Blue heroin ‘baggies’ symbolise a lifetime of rejection for Lisa. Since childhood, the narcotic has been an intrusive and destructive presence, through her relationship with her addict mother and partner. When her mother dies and her partner’s relapse leads to his incarceration, Lisa embarks on a cinematic pilgrimage of self-discovery and salvation. Through it, she becomes determined that the indelible mark addiction has left upon her will be transformed into something positive. Blue Bag Life is a raw yet deeply moving journey through the world of addiction. Unflinching in its portrayal of the darkness addicts enter into, as well as the stigma that accompanies it, Selby’s film is nevertheless an emotionally resonant love story that champions hope over despair.
The filmmakers comment: “We are completely overcome by winning the audience award. We made this film as a collective, and are all so touched that the small intimate story of Lisa’s often difficult and lonely journey to understand addiction first through her absent mother and then through her love for her partner Elliot, have connected so strongly with people. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the film and came to see it and voted for us. When we met Lisa, we all fell in love with her, and it seems that we’re not alone!”
Audience Award - Short
Drop Out – Ade Femzo
No matter how he looks at it, Tobi knows his good, hard-working African mother is not about to let him be a drop-out, despite how successful he is on these streets.
The Official Competition jury was led by acclaimed producer Tanya Seghatchian whose credits include Power of the Dog and Cold War; the First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award) jury was headed up by director and actor Nana Mensah whose debut film Queen of Glory (LFF 2021) won the Best New Narrative Director prize at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival; Italian filmmaker Roberto Minervini led the jury selecting the winner of the Grierson Award for Best Documentary after winning the award in 2018 for his film What You Gonna Do When the World’s On Fire; the Immersive Art and XR Competition was led by acclaimed photographer Misan Harriman; and finally, producer and director Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor rounded out the jury presiding over the Short Film Competition.
Other jurors previously announced were:
- Official Competition (Best Film Award) – actor Gwendoline Christie, filmmaker and playwright Kemp Powers, filmmaker Chaitanya Tamhane and journalist Charles Gant
- First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award) – comedian and actor Asim Chaudhry, Sight and Sound Managing Editor Isabel Stevens and Edinburgh International Film Festival creative director Kristy Matheson
- Documentary Competition (Grierson Award) – producer and former director of the Sundance Film Festival Tabitha Jackson and writer and artist Morgan M Page
- Immersive Art and XR Competition — London area director at Arts Council England Tonya Nelson and Olivier Delpoux, head of digital and audiovisual creation at the Institut Francais
- Short Film Competition: film producer Sorcha Bacon, journalist Caspar Salmon and Maddy Probst, managing producer at Bristol Watershed
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