Panah Panahi’s “Hit the Road,” Laura Wandel’s “Playground” and Liz Garbus’ “Becoming Cousteau” have won the feature competition awards at the 65th BFI London Film Festival.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge and BFI chief executive Ben Roberts led a judging panel to award “True Things” filmmaker Harry Wootliff the £50,000 ($68,470) IWC Schaffhausen bursary, which recognizes emerging talent.
Family road trip movie “Hit the Road” won best film at the festival’s official competition.
Malgorzata Szumowska, official competition president, said: “The best film award recognises inspiring and distinctive filmmaking that captures the essence of cinema. The essence of life. At all times in cinema history, but perhaps during a pandemic especially, we are looking for ways to connect to life. Our choice is for a film that made us laugh and cry and feel alive.”
“Playground,” the harsh world of playground politics as seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl, won the Sutherland Award in the first feature competition.
Isabel Sandoval, first feature competition president said: “It’s an intimate film that everyone can identify with and connect with, and yet has a striking and singular voice, with a courageous commitment to its vision. It has a visceral ability to capture beautifully and clearly how we are shaped by our experiences, and through an insular setting shows us a microcosm for the human condition, laying bare the power dynamics of people. It left us wanting to see more from this bold, audacious filmmaker.”
The Sutherland Award jury also gave a special commendation to Laura Samani’s “Small Body.”
“Becoming Cousteau,” on oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, won the Grierson Award in the documentary competition.
Kim Loginotto, documentary competition president said: “The film was a fascinating look at the life of Jacques Cousteau, but more importantly it highlights the most pressing issue of our time, climate change, and urges us all to take action now. He witnessed the devastation first hand, and this influenced his path to become a champion for the environment. He used his considerable influence, not only with his many followers but world leaders, to urge us as human beings to protect our planet.”
The Grierson Award jury also gave a special commendation to Sergey Loznitsa’s “Babi Yar. Context.”
Mounia Akl’s “Costa Brava, Lebanon” won the audience award, Duncan Speakman’s “Only Expansion” the immersive art and XR award and Diana Cam Van Nguyen’s “Love Dad” the short film award. The short film award jury also gave a special commendation to “The Bang Straws,” directed by Michelle Williams Gamaker and “Precious Hair & Beauty,” directed by John Ogunmuyiwa.
The festival ran Oct. 6-17.