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We Are Together and Billy the Kid top prizes at Edimburgh

The Awards for the 61st EIFF have been presented, with Control, We Are Together and Billy the Kid scooping the top prizes.

It's been another special year at the EIFF and the prizes for the 61st edition of the Film Festival were today presented at an exclusive ceremony at the capital's Caledonian Hilton.

Anton Corbijn's fantastic Control was a double winner - the director picking up the prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film and lead actor Sam Riley winning the PPG Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film.

Director Corbijn was delighted with the Award, which was presented by director Stephen Frears and Scottish actress Kate Dickie.

"It's fabulous. It's my first movie so I had no expectations for the film," said Corbijn. "I did all these things that people said I shouldn't be doing. Shooting in black and white, having an unknown as the main character, putting my own money in. Most of these things are what people say are great."

Riley's stunning performance as Ian Curtis in the biopic was a unanimous choice for the inaugural Best Performance Award. The musician-turned-actor was grateful for the support from Corbijn.

"He took a lot of risks with this film which he hasn't really mentioned," said Riley. "He gave me the biggest opportunity of my life. I was working in a bar in Leeds when I got this job!"

There was a surprise winner for the Standard Life Audience Award, as documentary We Are Together (Thina Simunye) scooped the prize voted for by festival-goers.

The film, concerning the plight of South African orphans, was deemed 'unmissable' by 85% of audiences, and director Paul Taylor was effusive in his praise of the Festival audience.

"We're incredibly proud to win the audience award, because it means they're connecting with the people in the film as much as we are," Taylor commented.

Producer Teddy Leifer announced a unique deal with EMI, which will directly help the children featured in the film.

"EMI, who are releasing the film in the UK, are doing an incredible thing. They're giving all their profits from the film to the kids in the film through our charity."

The EIFF began life as a documentary film festival and remains committed to non-fiction film, as signposted by the Sky Movies Best Documentary Award, which was won by Jennifer Venditti's Billy the Kid. The director sees the Film Festival as a special event.

"There's a real sense of a creative community here," Venditti commented. "The Festival are so supportive and they love films. They're passionate. People love to come up and talk to you about your film."

The Skillset New Directors Award went to Lucia Puenzo for the remarkable XXY, a teen drama about a 15-year-old hermaphrodite. Winning the prize augurs well for the future career of the outstandingly talented Puenzo.

Other winners included “The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island” by James Griffiths which won the UK Film Council Kodak Award for Best British Short Film. A special mention was given to Paddy Considine's directorial debut Dog Altogether.

The full list of Award winners:

Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film, sponsored by the UK Film Council

“Control” – directed by Anton Corbijn

PPG Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film

Sam Riley – “Control”

Standard Life Audience Award

“We Are Together”, directed by Paul Taylor

Sky Movies Best Documentary Award

“Billy the Kid,” directed by Jennifer Venditti

Special Jury Commendation to “The Monastery: Mr Vig and the Nun” directed by Pernille Rose Gronkjaer

Skillset New Directors Award

Lucia Puenzo - “XXY”

UK Film Council Kodak Award for Best British Short Film

“The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island”, by James Griffiths

Special mention to – “Dog Altogether”, by Paddy Considine

European Film Academy Short Film 2007 - Prix UIP

“Soft” by Simon Ellis

Special mention to “Final Journey” by Lars Zimmermann and “Ottica Zero” by Maja Borg

Short Scottish Documentary Award Supported by Baillie Gifford

“Breadmakers”, by Yasmin Fedda

Special mention to “How to Save a Fish From Drowning”, by Kelly Neal

McLaren Award for New British Animation in Partnership with BBC Film Network

“Over the Hill” by Peter Baynton

Picture courtesy of Peter Ross/EIFF.
Colan Mehaffey

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