The Selfish Giant is quickly becoming Women and Hollywood most anticipated film of 2014. News arrived from Stockholm yesterday that Selfish director Clio Barnard was bestowed yet another honor — the Best Film prize at the Stockholm Film Festival — for her Oscar Wilde adaptation. The SIFF jury praised the British director’s contemporary fable about copper theft by calling it “a uniquely complete film. Shattering, to the point, poetic, believable, delicate, humorous. The sensitive interaction between the two main actors has resulted in the most touching portrayal of friendship we’ve seen in film. Only someone hard-hearted could fail to love this film.”
Barnard was the second consecutive female filmmaker to win the Best Film prize in the Stockholm Film Fest’s 24-year history. Last year saw Australian director Cate Shortland receive SIFF’s bronze horse for her post-World War II drama Lore.
The festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to French arthouse director Claire Denis. The jury explained their choice, writing of Denis, “A bold explorer of postcolonial Africa and the dark corners of modern society who invites the audience to an exposed universe that is beautiful and raw. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to a filmmaker who continues to seek what others turn away from, always fearless and with a rare eye for visual poetry.”
The Stockholm festival is unique for its Feature Film Award, presented to a Swedish woman director working on her debut picture or her second or third films (as long as their budget doesn’t exceed $1 million). Filmmaker Fia-Stina Sandlund received this year’s prize, a seed fund of $815k and a theatrical and VOD distribution deal for She’s Wild Again Tonight, an adaptation of playwright August Strindberg’s Miss Julie.
The Feature Film Award was founded in 2011 to encourage female filmmakers. “I’ve always been against the idea of imposing gender quotas and this program is first and foremost about finding gems. My idea is to give ambitious women filmmakers a headstart to get their films made in the best conditions and help them enter the festival circuit,” said SIFF director Git Scheynius. “When I started the Stockholm Film Festival in 1990, there weren’t that many women directors presenting their films but I thought their presence would eventually build up, and as it never really took off I decided to create this initiative.”