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London Festival Enjoys audience and industry records

The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival rounded off its most successful year to date with the European premiere of Danny Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

This year’s Festival hosted 191 feature films and 109 short films from 43 countries including a record 15 world premieres. There were 398 screenings and 537 visiting international filmmakers, a record 1096 industry professionals, and the highest ever audience attendance.

High-profile international filmmakers and actors attended their film’s screenings over the 16 days. Opening the festivities was the world premiere screening of FROST/NIXON with director Ron Howard in attendance alongside actors including Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon and the subject of the film Sir David Frost. The European premiere of W. provided more political drama with director Oliver Stone and cast members Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Thandie Newton and Toby Jones introducing the film. Stephan Elliott, Ben Barnes, Colin Firth and Jessica Biel graced the red carpet for EASY VIRTUE and Firth also attended GENOVA alongside co-stars Perla Haney-Jardine and Willa Holland and director Michael Winterbottom. In addition, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson and Romola Garai joined director Sir Richard Eyre for THE OTHER MAN and Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro introduced CHE.

Other Festival guests included Spike Lee who was joined by Alexandra Maria Lara for THE MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA and heavy metal group Anvil who performed a surprise set at the premiere of ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL. THE BROTHERS BLOOM premiere was attended by director Rian Johnson alongside Rachel Weisz and Robbie Coltrane whilst Eva Green, Sam Riley and Ryan Phillippe introduced the world premiere of FRANKLYN alongside director Gerald McMorrow. Sophie Okenedo and Paul Bettany joined director Gina Prince-Bythewood for THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, Anne Hathaway joined Jonathan Demme for RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, and Gwyneth Paltrow introduced TWO LOVERS. Rounding off the Festival was the Closing Night Gala screening of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE attended by Danny Boyle, Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto and Anil Kapoor.
British filmmaking and acting talent was out in force with a record number of UK films world premiering at the Festival, including Jeremy Deller’s and Nicholas Abrahams’ THE POSTERS CAME FROM THE WALLS, Giles Borg’s 1234, and Nick Moran’s TELSTAR which was attended by the director alongside Ralf Little, Pam Ferris, JJ Fields and Con O’Neill. Musician Vashti Bunyan accompanied director Kieran Evans to the world premiere screening of VASHTI BUNYAN: FROM HERE TO BEFORE whilst Eran Creevy was joined by Riz Ahmed and Daniel Mays for SHIFTY and Robert Carlyle introduced I KNOW YOU KNOW with director Justin Kerrigan. Steve McQueen was present to introduce HUNGER with cast members Liam Cunningham and Michael Fassbender whilst Peter O’Toole and Jeremy Northam accompanied New Zealand director Toa Fraser for DEAN SPANLEY.
Other international filmmakers who flew into London included: Ari Folman (WALTZ WITH BASHIR); Laurent Cantet (THE CLASS); Lance Hammer (BALLAST); Albert Serra (BIRDSONG); Ketan Mehta (COLOURS OF PASSION); Ramin Bahrani (GOODBYE SOLO); Jaime Rosales (BULLET IN THE HEAD); Paolo Sorrentino (IL DIVO); Agnes Varda (THE BEACHES OF AGNES); Uli Edel (THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX); and Alex Gibney (GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON). Directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne were joined by lead actress Arta Dobroshi for THE SILENCE OF LORNA whilst Nanni Moretti accompanied Antonello Grimaldi for QUIET CHAOS. Several filmmakers presented multiple projects such as actor-directors Bouli Lanners (LOUISE-MICHEL, ELDORADO) and Nandita Das (RAMCHAND PAKISTANI, FIRAAQ). In addition, experimental filmmakers Nathaniel Dorsky and Alina Rudnitskaya each introduced selections of their short films.
Benicio Del Toro, Danny Boyle, Michael Sheen and Robert Carlyle were welcomed on stage for Tiscali Screen Talks while Charlie Kaufman and Peter Morgan discussed their craft at the Script Factory/NFTS Masterclasses. Several new American directors were present for panel discussion INDIEWOOD IS DEAD … LONG LIVE THE NEW, TRUE INDIES including Barry Jenkins (MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY) and Azazel Jacobs (MOMMA’S MAN), and a host of British directors and producers debated the current state of the UK film industry at the BRITISH FILM BOOM! event. Close Up with Time Out once again sparked debate across the Festival with discussion topics ranging from THE ETHICAL PROBLEM OF VIOLENCE ON FILM to CINEMA UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH, and The Variety UK Achievement in Film Award was presented to Ralph Fiennes.

Two nights of free outdoor screenings on Trafalgar Square brought classic films to the public and were greeted with outstanding attendance figures with over 9000 film-lovers present over the two evenings. The LONDON LOVES events, in association with Film London, included screenings of 1920’s classic HIGH TREASON, in addition to LIVING LONDON – a film not seen in the UK for over 100 years - and archive news footage of Charlie Chaplin being mobbed by fans in CHAPLIN VISITS LONDON (1921). Accompanying the screenings was a live piano score, improvised each night by acclaimed pianist Neil Brand. Archive treasures were also found in the main programme with renowned film archivists present to introduce many of the screenings, including Grover Crisp who attended COVER GIRL (1944), VIRTUE (1932), and THE MIRACLE WOMAN (1931), and Barry Allen who introduced a restored print of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST to mark the classic Western’s 40th anniversary.
In addition to welcoming more members of the public than ever before, the Festival also played host to a record number of industry delegates from 22 countries who participated in a range of events including: UK AND INDIA: THE SHAPE OF THNGS TO COME in association with the UK Film Council; the PRODUCTION FINANCE MARKET in association with Film London; and, a sold-out MEET THE BUYERS networking event. The Festival also hosted talent-development programme THINK-SHOOT-DISTRIBUTE in association with Skillset, and the groundbreaking digital distribution forum POWER TO THE PIXEL. Over 5000 people participated in education screenings and events at the Festival with all workshops full-booked, including the FILM-SCORING and ANIMATION WORKSHOPS. The annual series of Filmmakers’ Breakfasts saw over 50 directors complete a total of 238 interviews with international journalists (with 1260 accredited press delegates from 53 countries).

Festival Artistic Director, Sandra Hebron, commented: “We are delighted that this year's festival has been so well received. Combining high profile red carpet premieres with the best of European and world cinema, it has offered a celebration of international film making in all its forms. It has been a pleasure to welcome so many talented directors, actors, writers and producers to London to present their work, and gratifying that our audience figures are the highest ever.”


At the Closing Gala the following three awards were presented: director Sergey Dvortsevoy received the Sutherland Trophy for TULPAN; director Matthew Newton was awarded the 11th FIPRESCI International Critics Award for THREE BLIND MICE; and the 13th Annual Satyajit Ray Award went to MID-AUGUST LUNCH directed by Gianni di Gregorio. Other awards include the TCM Short Film Award which went to LEAVING directed by Richard Penfold and Sam Hearn, and The Times BFI London Film Festival Grierson Award was presented to directors Renaud Barret and Florent De La Tullaye for VICTOIRE TERMINUS.

Awards:

The Sutherland Trophy Winner: TULPAN directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy.

The Sutherland Trophy is awarded to the director of the most original and imaginative first feature film screened at The Times BFI London Film Festival.

In awarding the trophy, the Sutherland Jury said of the film: “A masterpiece: both intimate and epic, a film full of life and ideas. An extraordinary feat of artistic endeavour in its depiction of man’s interaction with nature, TULPAN has an exhilarating blend of humour, emotion, and audacious visuals.”

Previous winners: PERSEPOLIS 2007, RED ROAD 2006, FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD 2005, TARNATION 2004, OSAMA 2003, CARNAGES 2002, THE WARRIOR 2001 and YOU CAN COUNT ON ME 2000, RATCATCHER 1999, THE APPLE 1998.

11th FIPRESCI International Critics Award Winner: THREE BLIND MICE directed by Matthew Newton.

FIPRESCI is the international organisation of film critics throughout the world and has been in existence for over 70 years. It is best known publicly through the participation of its juries at all the major and many specialist international film festivals. FIPRESCI’s sole purpose is to advance the art of cinema and reward talent.

Previous Winners: UNRELATED 2007, LOLA 2006, MAN PUSH CART 2005, AALTRA 2004, THE LIVING WORLD 2003, ANGEL ON THE RIGHT 2002, BOLIVIA 2001, UNEASY RIDERS 2000.

The Times BFI London Film Festival Grierson Award: VICTOIRE TERMINUS directed by Renaud Barret and Florent De La Tullaye.

Now in its fourth year, The Times BFI London Film Festival Grierson Award is given to the director of the best feature-length documentary shown at the Festival.

Previous winners: THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM & OTHER STORIES, THIN 2006, WORKINGMAN’S DEATH 2005.

The 13th Annual Satyajit Ray Award: MID-AUGUST LUNCH directed by Gianni di Gregorio.
Honourable mentions went to SHIFTY (directed by Eran Creevy) and RAMCHAND PAKISTANI (directed by Mehreen Jabbar).

The Satyajit Ray Foundation gives an annual award to a first feature, premiered in the UK at The Times BFI London Film Festival, which reflects the artistry, compassion and humanity of Ray's own work.

Previous winners include: CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ (ENDLESS) 2007, THE LIVES OF OTHERS 2006, PAVEE LAKEEN 2005, THE WOODSMAN 2004, SOMEONE LIKE HODDER 2003, RACHIDA 2002, IN THE BEDROOM 2001, UNEASY RIDERS 2000, BOYS DON’T CRY 1999, SMOKE SIGNALS 1998.
TCM Short Film Award Winner: LEAVING directed by Richard Penfold and Sam Hearn.
On Wednesday night, LEAVING was announced as Best Short Film at the TCM Classic Shorts competition at an award ceremony held as part of The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival. The film was selected from hundreds of entries from Europe, the Middle East and Africa by a judging panel of film industry heavyweights including: Rutger Hauer, Wolfgang Peterson, Cillian Murphy, Stephen Woolley, James Franco and Jason Isaacs.
Previous Winners include: A BOUT DE TRUFFE 2007, SILENCE IS GOLDEN 2006, JANE LLOYD 2005, NITS 2004, BROWN PAPER BAG 2003, THESPIAN X 2002, ABOUT A GIRL 2001, JE T’AIME JOHN WAYNE 2000
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