The 65th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express has announced its jury line-up for this year’s festival awards. The awards will be held virtually on Sunday 17 October at 16:00 on BFI YouTube and social media #LFFAwards. 

The Official Competition jury is led by acclaimed Never Gonna Snow Again (LFF 2020) and Mug director Małgorzata Szumowska. The First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award) jury will be headed up by director, writer, actor and editor Isabel Sandoval whose film Lingua Franca was selected as part of the festival’s 2019 Official Competition line-up. BAFTA-winning documentary director Kim Longinotto (Sisters in Law, Pink Saris) will lead the jury selecting the winner of the Grierson Award for Best Documentary, the Immersive Art and XR Competition will be led by the founder and artistic director of immersive theatre company Punchdrunk Felix Barrett (The Third Day, Sleep No More, The Drowned Man) – whose new show The Burnt City opens in London next spring – and the list is rounded off by Saint Maud (LFF 2019) director Rose Glass, who heads up the Short Film Competition jury.

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The BFI London Film Festival awards are a celebration of the most exciting, innovative new films and cinematic storytelling. Creative, beautiful and often provocative, the nominees showcase an incredible range of talent from across the world.

The three filmmakers shortlisted for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI are Lee Haven Jones, director of debut feature The Feast; Harry Wootliff, writer and director of her second feature True Things; and Rob Savage, co-writer, producer, executive producer and director of his second feature Dashcam.

A panel of senior industry figures – BFI Festivals Director Tricia Tuttle, Film4 Head of Creative Oliver Madden, BBC Film Commissioning Executive Eva Yates, BFI Senior Development and Production Executive Farhana Bhula and film critic, broadcaster and host Anna Smith selected the shortlist of filmmakers.

Multi award-winning writer, actor and producer, known for the BBC 3 and Amazon series Fleabag, which she starred in, created and produced, Phoebe Waller-Bridge will join BFI Chief Executive Ben Roberts to select this years’ winner.

The £50,000 IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI will be announced at a virtual ceremony on Sunday 17 October at 16:00 on BFI YouTube and social media.

Official Competition 

Małgorzata Szumowska

Małgorzata Szumowska, Official Competition Jury President said: “I am honoured to be the Jury President of this year’s BFI London Film Festival. The selection of films is of a high standard and I can’t wait to watch them. Film festivals prove that in difficult times, real cinema is still alive and has a chance to survive. As a director, I actually grew up with the London Film Festival, which screened my first film, Happy Man, when I was just 25 years old. It is beautiful that, more than 20 years later, I am able to be the Jury President of that same festival.”

Szumowska is joined this year by: film critic Jessica Kiang, Emmy award winning casting director Nina Gold (The Crown, Game of Thrones), BAFTA-nominated After Love director Aleem Khan and multi-award winning director Mark Cousins who is known for his prolific documentaries including The First Movie and The Eyes of Orson Welles.

The Best Film Award recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking. The Official Competition films are: 

  • Belle (Japan, dir-scr. Mamoru Hosoda)
  • Il buco (Italy/Germany/France, dir. Michelangelo Frammartino)
  • The Hand of God (Italy, dir-scr. Paolo Sorrentino)
  • Nitram (Australia, dir. Justin Kurzel)
  • Hit the Road (Iran, dir-scr. Panah Panahi)
  • Sundown (Mexico – France – Sweden, dir-scr. Michel Franco)
  • Lingui, the Sacred Bonds (Chad/France/Germany – Belgium, dir-scr. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun)
  • True Things (UK, dir. Harry Wootliff) 

First Feature Competition 

Isabel Sandoval
© Brigitte Lacombe

Isabel Sandoval, First Feature Competition Jury President said: “I’m beyond honoured to be chairing such a stellar jury for the Sutherland Award and cannot wait to be blown away by the genius and prodigious talent behind the competing films.” 

Alongside Sandoval will be: Welsh film director Prano Bailey-Bond (Nasty, Censor), Little White Lies’ Associate Editor Hannah Strong, Real actor / director Aki Omoshaybi and British actor Nabhaan Rizwan (Mogul Mowgli, 1917, Last Letter from Your Lover).

The Sutherland Award recognises the most original and imaginative directorial debut. Introduced in 1958 and named in honour of BFI Patron George Sutherland Leveson-Gower. 

This year’s nominated directors are:

  • The Alleys (dir. Bassel Ghandour)
  • Azor (dir. Andreas Fontana)
  • Costa Brava Lebanon (dir. Mounia Akl)
  • Prayers for the Stolen (dir.scr Tatiana Huezo)
  • The Feast (dir. Lee Haven Jones)
  • Small Body (dir. Laura Samani)
  • Playground (dir-Scr. Laura Wandel)
  • White Building (dir. Kavich Neang)


Documentary Competition 

Kim Longinotto

Kim Longinotto, Documentary Competition President said: “I’m really excited and honoured that I’ve been asked to join the jury this year.  There are always great films showing at the LFF so I’m looking forward to a feast of viewings and great discussions with the rest of the jury.”

Joining Longinotto on the jury this year is: Kenyan documentary director / producer Peter Murimi whose credits include I Am Samuel and Earn a Living, British film producer and co-founder of Tigerlily Films Natasha Dack (Buttercup, Anthrakitis) and Glasgow Film CEO Allison Gardner. 



The Grierson Award recognises feature-length documentaries with integrity, originality and social or cultural significance. The selected documentaries this year are: 

  • All About My Sisters (dir. Wang Qiong)
  • Babi Yar. Context (dir. Sergei Loznitsa)
  • Becoming Cousteau (dir. Liz Garbus) 
  • The Dance (dir. Pat Collins) 
  • A Cop Movie (dir. Alonso Ruizpalacios)
  • Faya Dayi (dir.scr Jessica Beshir)
  • Cow (dir. Andrea Arnold)
  • Nascondino (hide and Seek) (dir. Victoria Fiore)

Immersive Art and XR Competition

Felix Barrett
© Stephen Dobbie

Felix Barrett, Immersive Art and XR Competition President said: “Pioneering experiential methods of storytelling has been at the heart of Punchdrunk’s work for over 20 years, so I was delighted to be invited to take part as Jury President. I’m always so interested and inspired to see how other creators respond to this same challenge across different art forms and technologies, and I can’t wait to see what LFF Expanded has in store.”

Barrett will be joined by: Artists Bruno Martelli and Ruth Gibson whose work DAZZLE SOLO played as part of LFF Expanded last year and have been BAFTA-nominated for Interactive Art.

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 selected works are:

  • About Children (lead artists: Ella Hickson, Sacha Wares, Scanlab Projects)
  • Atomic / Ghost in the Atom (lead artists: Felicia Honkasalo, Akuliina Niemi, Masi Tiitta)
  • Captured (lead artist: Hanna Haaslaht)
  • Container (lead artists: Meghna Singh, Simon Wood)
  • Eternal Return (lead artists: Scanlab Projects and Lundahl & Seitl)
  • Eulogy (lead artist: Darkfield)
  • Fauna (lead artists: Adrien M. & Claire B. X Brest Brest Brest)
  • Inhibition (lead artists: Zoe Diakaki, Marina Eleni Mersiadou)
  • A Life in Pieces: The Diary and Letters of Stanley Hayami (lead artists: Nonny De La Peña, Sharon Yamato)
  • Liminal Lands (lead artist: Jakob Kudsk Steensen)
  • Missing Pictures: Tsai Ming-Liang (lead artists: Clement Deneux, Kuan-Yuan Lai)
  • Noah’s Raft (lead artists: Joel Kachi Benson & Tal Michael Haring)
  • Only Expansion – Audio Walk (lead artist: Duncan Speakman)
  • Samsara (lead artist: Hsin-Chien Huang)
  • Virtually There (lead artist: Leon Oldstrong)

Short Film Competition

Rose Glass

Rose Glass, Short Film Competition President comments: “I’ve been a fan of the festival for many years and was so thrilled to have Saint Maud screened here in 2019. To be on the other side of things again this year as chair of the shorts jury is a strange and exciting honour! Can’t wait to see the films!”

Joining Glass will be: Film critic Elena Lazic, BIFA Nominated actor Amir El-Masry (Limbo), Picture Palace Pictures producer Madeleine Molyneaux (Dawson City: Frozen Time, Tonsler Park) and 2018 Screen International Star of Tomorrow filmmaker Baff Akoto (Leave the Edges, Virtual (Black) Reality).

The Short Film Award recognises short form works that speak with a unique cinematic voice, demonstrating a confident handling of theme and content. The nominated films this year are:  

  • The Bang Straws (dir. Michelle Williams Gamaker)
  • Diseased and Disorderly (dir. Andrew Kötting)
  • Fantasma Neon (dir. Leonardo Martinelli)
  • Femme (dir. Sam H Freeman, Ng Choon Ping)
  • For Love (dir. Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor)
  • Know the Grass (dir. Sophie Littman)
  • Lemongrass Girl (dir. Pom Bunsermvicha)
  • Love, Dad (dir. Diana Cam Van Nguyen)
  • Precious Hair & Beauty (dir. John Ogunmuyiwa)
  • Stiletto: ‘A Pink Family Tragedy’ (dir. Can Merdan Doğan)

This year sees the return of the LFF Audience Award where festival-goers can vote for their favourite film of the festival. The Audience Award was won last year by Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, which went on to win the Academy Award for best international film. 

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