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London Festival Finishes with a Flourish

Tonight, The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival rounded off a record-breaking year with THE DARJEELING LIMITED. This year’s 51st Festival hosted 185 feature films and 133 short films from 43 countries, 412 screenings and 515 visiting international filmmakers, over 1000 industry professionals including a record 191 buyers and sellers, and the highest ever audience attendance.
International glamour on the red carpet featured throughout the Festival’s 16 days. Wes Anderson was joined by Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody and Roman Coppola with Amara Karan and Camilla Rutherford to introduce THE DARJEELING LIMITED, the Closing Night Gala in an unprecedented line-up of 14 Gala premieres. Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch introduced INTO THE WILD, and the audience were delighted to welcome on stage Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, Michael Peña and Andrew Garfield for the world premiere of LIONS FOR LAMBS. Opening the Festival, David Cronenberg introduced EASTERN PROMISES with cast members Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel, while Susanne Bier, Sam Mendes and Halle Berry graced the red carpet for THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE the following week and Andrew Dominik introduced THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD.
Amitabh Bachchan received a huge welcome from fans at THE LAST LEAR premiere, Tamara Jenkins and Laura Linney introduced THE SAVAGES and Naomi Watts made a second appearance with co-stars Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet for FUNNY GAMES. Director James C Strouse was joined by co-producer and actor John Cusack for GRACE IS GONE while Todd Haynes attended his Gala premiere of I’M NOT THERE with lead actors Ben Whishaw and Christian Bale as well as long-time producing collaborator Christine Vachon. Sienna Miller and Steve Buscemi appeared early on in the Festival to introduce INTERVIEW, while Allison Janney, writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman came in for JUNO in the final days, as did Chiwetel Ejiofer and Kasi Lemmons for TALK TO ME. Ang Lee and Tang Wei shone on the red carpet for LUST, CAUTION and a family audience were delighted to welcome Kevin Lima and his cast Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden for the magical premiere of ENCHANTED.

Naomi Watts, Wes Anderson and Laura Linney were welcomed on stage for the TCM Screen Talks, and Steve Buscemi and Harmony Korine talked candidly about their careers at The Script Factory/NFTS Masterclasses. Close Up with Time Out once again sparked debate across the Festival, and many of the visiting filmmakers sat on panels discussing a variety of topics including THE DOCUMENTARY DILEMMA and ROMANIAN CINEMA: THE NEW NEXT WAVE?
A wealth of British talent attended their premieres, including Asif Kapadia for FAR NORTH, John Crowley and lead actor Andrew Garfield for BOY A and Penny Woolcock returned to the Festival with EXODUS. Newcomers Simon Welsford (JETSAM) and Joanna Hogg (UNRELATED) introduced their films as did industry veterans Richard Attenborough (CLOSING THE RING) and Nick Broomfield (BATTLE FOR HADITHA). Both Sarah Gavron (BRICK LANE) and Garth Jennings (SON OF RAMBOW: A HOME MOVIE) received huge applause from audiences after their premieres, and Paul Greengrass appeared onstage for an interview and to receive the Variety UK Achievement in Film Award.

British documentary talent was also out in force, with Kim Longinotto introducing HOLD ME TIGHT, LET ME GO, while world premieres were introduced respectively by Geoffrey Smith for THE ENGLISH SURGEON, and producers Livia Firth and Colin Firth joined William Francome at IN PRISON MY WHOLE LIFE.

Documentary makers from around the world were strongly represented too, introducing and discussing their films, including: Nicolas Philibert (BACK TO NORMANDY), David Sington (IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON), Nadav Schirman (THE CHAMPAGNE SPY), Morgan Neville (THE COOL SCHOOL), Alina Marazzi (WE WANT ROSES TOO) and Amir Bar-Lev (MY KID COULD PAINT THAT).
International filmmakers who flew into London included: Cristian Mungiu (4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS), François Ozon (ANGEL), Nadine Labaki (CARAMEL), Jan Svĕrák (EMPTIES), Julio Medem (CHAOTIC ANA), Shivajee Chandrabhushan (FROZEN), Julian Schnabel (THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY), Marjane Satrapi (PERSEPOLIS), Carlos Reygadas (SILENT LIGHT), Eran Kolirin (THE BAND’S VISIT), Catherine Breillat (THE LAST MISTRESS), Buddhadeb Dasgupta (THE VOYEURS), Paprika Steen (WITH YOUR PERMISSION), Paolo Morelli (CITY OF MEN) and Pierre-Yves Borgeaud (RETURN TO GOREE).
In addition to the public screenings, the Festival hosted over 100 education and industry screenings and events, including POWER TO THE PIXEL and MAKE YOUR OWN SPECIAL EFFECTS for school-children, as well as partnering with Film London for the inaugural PRODUCTION FINANCE MARKET. The Filmmakers’ Breakfasts hosted over 170 interviews between the visiting filmmakers and international journalists (with a record number of over 1000 accredited press delegates from 52 countries).
The Trafalgar Square events were highlights in the programme, with large audiences on both nights watching treasures from the BFI archive including Alfred Hitchcock’s BLACKMAIL while pianists Neil Brand and John Sweeney accompanied the films with live music, a perfect partner to the images of London from over 100 years of cinema history. An enthusiastic crowd were delighted when this year’s surprise film was revealed as being The Coen Brothers’ NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, and David Lynch and Donovan also captivated their audience at a unique evening discussing consciousness, creativity and transcendental meditation.

Festival Artistic Director, Sandra Hebron, commented “It has been extremely heartening to see such an enthusiastic response to the Festival from the public, the media and the industry at large. A strong and diverse programme of films, a wealth of inspirational filmmakers, record levels of public attendance and the success of our industry and educational events has made this a hugely enjoyable and successful Festival.”


At the Closing Gala the following four awards were presented: directors Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud received the Sutherland Trophy for PERSEPOLIS and director Joanna Hogg was awarded the 10th FIPRESCI International Critics Award for UNRELATED. The Alfred Dunhill Award was presented to director Sarah Gavron for BRICK LANE and the 12th Annual Satyajit Ray Award went to CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ (ENDLESS) directed by Cristian Nemescu. Other awards include the TCM Short Film Award which went to A BOUT DE TRUFFE directed by Tom Tagholm and The Times BFI London Film Festival Grierson Award was presented to director Andrey Paounov for THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM AND OTHER STORIES.


The Sutherland Trophy Winner: PERSEPOLIS directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud.

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: “An astonishing and courageous film which captures a universal story with real style. Irreverent, fresh, witty and also heartbreaking, PERSEPOLIS is certainly a deserving winner of this year's award.”


10th FIPRESCI International Critics Award Winner: UNRELATED directed by Joanna Hogg.

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

The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award Winner: Sarah Gavron director of BRICK LANE.

Created to celebrate and support new and emerging UK Film talent, the UK Film Talent Award is sponsored by Alfred Dunhill. In partnership with the UK Film Council, the award recognises the achievements of new and emerging British writers, directors and producers who have shown great skill and imagination in bringing originality and verve to filmmaking. This year’s winner, Sarah Gavron, directed BRICK LANE. This award is endowed with £15,000.

Previous Winners: Mark Herbert 2006, Gayle Griffiths 2005, Amma Asante 2004.

The Times BFI London Film Festival Grierson Award: THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM AND OTHER STORIES directed by Andrey Paounov.

Now in its third 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 winner: THIN 2006, WORKINGMAN’S DEATH 2005.

The 12th Annual Satyajit Ray Award Winner: CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ (ENDLESS) directed by Cristian Nemescu

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.

TCM Short Film Award Winner: A BOUT DE TRUFFE directed by Tom Tagholm.
On Wednesday night, A BOUT DE TRUFFE was announced as Best Short Film at the TCM Classic Shorts competition at an award ceremony held as part of The Times BFI 50th London Film Festival. 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.
Previous Winners include: 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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