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London Film Festival Announces Prizes At Closing Gala

PERSEPOLISPERSEPOLIS 

Friday, November 2---------At the Closing Gala of the 51st Times bfi London Film Festival, held last evening at the close of the 14-day festival marathon, a host of awards were announced. While the Festival does not have a Competition Section per se, films screening in its various sections are eligible for some special awards.

The Sutherland Trophy is awarded to the director of the most original and imaginative first feature film screened at Festival. The winners were the French directing team of Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud for the animated film PERSEPOLIS. The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and has been a festival favorite throughout the summer, is based on Satrapi's popular graphic novel about her coming-of-age during the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the 1980s.

UNRELATEDUNRELATEDUK writer and director Joanna Hogg was awarded the FIPRESCI International Critics Award for her film UNRELATED. The drama, which had its world premiere at the Festival, tells the story of a woman escaping an unhappy marriage, who takes refuge with a friend's family on holiday in Italy, where events force her to confront the reality of never having had her own children. Also awarded from the UK was director Sarah Gavron, who received the Alfred Dunhill Award for most promising new British director, for her film BRICK LANE. The film, an adaptation of the popular novel about a young Bangladeshi woman's arranged marriage and ultimate independence in East London, has been a controversial film that has generated protest and a snub from Buckingham Palace. It will open in the UK later this month.

The 12th Annual Satyajit Ray Award, named in honor of the iconic Indian director to honor a debut director, was awarded to Romanian director Cristian Nemescu for the film CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'. The film, which had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and won the top award in the Un Certain Regard section, tells the tale of a railway chief , who delays a NATO train transporting military equipment during the war in Kosovo in 1999. The award is indeed bittersweet, since the director died in an automobile accident shortly before completing the film at the age of 27. CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' is being hailed as the latest gem to come from the suddenly hot Romanian film industry.

The London Film Festival Grierson Award, in honor of the famed documentarian to honor the Festival's choice for Best Documentary, went to to Bulgarian-born director Audrey Paounov for THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM AND OTHER STORIES. The film tells the epic story of a village turned concentration camp that eventually becomes a nuclear power plant, in a world transformed by ideaologies, regimes and dreams of economic prosperity. The film won the top documentary prize earlier this summer at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. And last but not least, the short film A BOUT DE TRUFFE was announced as Best Short Film. The film was selected from over 380 entries by a judging panel of film industry heavyweights including Lasse Hallstrom, Cillian Murphy, Simon Pegg, Paul Andrew Williams, Stephen Woolley and Detlev Buck. 

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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