By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 28, 2009 at 12:26PM
At a brand new festival awards ceremony at London’s Inner Temple, Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" won the inaugural best film award at the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival. Hosted by journalist and broadcaster, Paul Gambaccini, the five additional awards were presented at ceremony, including another first-time award, best British newcomer, which went to Jack Thorne, screenwriter of the film "The Scouting Book For Boys."
An international jury chaired by Anjelica Huston and including John Akomfrah, Jarvis Cocker, Mathieu Kassovitz, Charlotte Rampling and Iain Softley decided on "A Prophet," with Huston presenting the award at the ceremony. "'A Prophet' has the ambition, purity of vision and clarity of purpose to make it an instant classic," Huston said on behalf of the jury. "With seamless and imaginative story-telling, superb performances and universal themes, Jacques Audiard has made a perfect film.”
The jury also gave a special mention to John Hillcoat’s "The Road," praising the film’s "breathtaking vision, extraordinary performances and profound political statement."
Dominic Cooper and Jodie Whittaker presented the Best British Newcomer Star of London to aforementioned Thorne, saying that Thorne "is a poetic writer with an end-of-the-world imagination and a real gift for story-telling." Special mention went to J Blakeson, the writer and director of "The Disappearance of Alice Creed."
Other winners included Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani's "Ajami," which was presented the longstanding Sutherland Award (given to the maker of the most original and imaginative first feature screening in the Festival). Jurors included Paul Greengrass, Kerry Fox and David Parfitt. "A bold and original piece of filmmaking," the jury said in a statement, 'Ajami' tells an important story in a thoroughly engrossing and cinematic way. A fantastic achievement, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani have made a film with a heart and a vision that speaks for a common humanity."
The Grierson Award, given to the best documentary at the festival, went to Yoav Shamir's "Defamation." Juror Nick Broomfield said of the film: "'Defamation' does exactly what documentary, at its best, can do, making us re-examine our assumptions about an important and complex subject, in an absorbing and funny way. The film’s intellectual courage, boldness of conception and the excitement of the journey on which it takes you make this a winning film."
The festival also gave out "the highest accolade that the British Film Institute," the BFI Fellowship, to two recipients at the ceremony. British actor John Hurt and renowned Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cissé were each given the award for "their significant achievements in the fields of acting and directing."
The London Film Festival concludes tomorrow. Check out indieWIRE's wrap up of the festival here.