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London Fest Announces Awards Shortlist; “Mr. Fox,” “Serious Man” Among Finalists

London Fest Announces Awards Shortlist; "Mr. Fox," "Serious Man" Among Finalists

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival has announced shortlists for all four of its awards, including two new awards that will be presented for the first time.

Nine films from around the world will compete for the inaugural “Best Film” award, including opening night film “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” directed by Wes Anderson, and closing night film “Nowhere Boy,” which chronicles John Lennon’s childhood. Both films are world premiering at the fest, and they join Robert Connolly’s “Balibo,” Joel and Ethan Coen’s “A Serious Man,” John Hillcoat’s “The Road,” Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Micmacs,” Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet,” Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon,” and Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” in the competition.

The shortlist was drawn up by the Artistic Director and the programming team, and will be judged by an international jury chaired by Anjelica Huston and comprised of John Akomfrah, Jarvis Cocker, Matthieu Kassovitz, Charlotte Rampling and Iain Softley.

The fest’s other new prize – “Best British Newcomer” – was narrowed down to seven contenders, including “44” Chest” director Malcom Venville, “Cracks” director Jordan Scott, “Kicks” director Lindy Heymann and writer Leigh Campbell, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” director J. Blakeson, and “The Scouting Book For Boys” director Tom Harper and writer Jack Thorne.

This year’s judges for the prize include Lenny Crooks, Head of the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund; Christine Langan, Creative Director of BBC Films; Tessa Ross, Controller of Film4 and Drama, Channel 4 and Tanya Seghatchian, Head of the UK Film Council’s Development Fund and Executive Producer of the “Harry Potter” franchise.

Previous accolades The Sutherland Trophy and The Grierson Award also were shortlisted. The Sutherland Trophy, awarded to the maker of the most original and imaginative first feature screening in the Festival, will be competed for by “Ajami,” “Bunny and the Bull,” “Cold Souls,” “Eyes Wide Open,” “Lebanon,” “Metropia,” “Samson & Delilah,” “Shirley Adams,” “Wah Do Dem,” and “Wolfy.” Contenders for The Grierson Award, given to the best documentary at the fest, include “45365,” “La Danse – The Paris Opera Ballet,” “Defamation,” “Have You Heard From Johannesburg: The Bottom Line,” “Mugabe and the White African,” “Osadne,” and “Sergio.”

The Sutherland Trophy’s jury will consist of Edgar Wright, Matt Bochenski, Mark Cosgrove, Kerry Fox, Sara Frain, Paul Greengrass, David Parfitt and Gillian Wearing. The Grierson jury will include includes Nick Broomfield, Molly Dineen, Ellen Fleming and Christo Hird.

The awards will be handed out at a ceremony on October 28, 2009 at London’s Inner Temple and hosted by Paul Gambaccini. The winners will receive the new “Star of London” trophy commissioned especially for the Festival and designed by leading sculptor Almuth Tebbenhoff.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival runs October 14-29, 2009. indieWIRE will be on the scene.

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