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UPDATED: LFF boasts highest attendance, winners include Rust And Bone, My Brother The Devil, Beasts, Mea Maxima Culpa

UPDATED: BFI boasts a 12% increase in festival attendance with the highest ever audience turn-out with 149,000 across London venues.

The BFI London Film Festival presented its awards on tonight [Saturday], with the Best Film prize going to Jacques Audiard’s Rust And Bone [pictured].

David Hare, president of the Official Competition jury, presented the honour. Audiard also won the LFF prize in 2009 for A Prophet. The award, in partnership with American Express, celebrates the “most original, intelligent and distinctive filmmaking in the festival.”

Hare said: “Jacques Audiard has a unique handwriting, made up of music, montage, writing, photography, sound, visual design and acting. He is one of only a very small handful of film-makers in the world who has mastered, and can integrate, every element of the process to one purpose: making, in Rust and Bone, a film full of heart, violence and love.”

The jury gave a commendation to Michel Franco’s After Lucia and to Pablo Larrain’s No.

The Best British Newcomer went to Sally El Hosaini, writer/director of My Brother The Devil. The award is presented with Swarovski. That jury’s president David Heyman said: “Sally El Hosaini’s writing and direction displayed a remarkable maturity. The film transcended its genre with lyricism and tenderness and possessed a wonderful emotional truth”. El Hosaini is a former Screen International Star of Tomorrow.

The Sutherland Award, presented to the director of the most orignal and imaginative feature debut in the festival, went to Benh Zeitlin for Beasts Of The Southern Wild. Hannah McGill, president of that jury noted that the jury recognised the film’s brilliant, distince vision of life on the edge of the world.”

McGill said: “We commended Anand Gandhi’s incredibly ambitious Ship of Theseus, for tickling our intellect and showing us rarely-seen facets of Indian life; as well as Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Wadjda, a profound but wickedly
funny take on Saudi Arabia’s assault on female autonomy. However one film stood out as most clearly deserving of the top prize recognising innovation and originality: Benh Zeitlin’s daringly vast, richly detailed Beasts of The Southern Wild.”

The Grierson Award for Best Documentary, co-presented with the Grierson Trust, went to Alex Gibney for Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House of God. Roger Graef, President of the jury, said “Mea Maxima Culpa was the unanimous choice of the judges. It was a life-changing film that was made with real integrity. The use of deaf men for interviews finally telling their story was both very distinctive and respectful. The journalism showed an extraordinary paper trail of events leading right to the Vatican in an incredibly compelling manner. It deeply affected the judges who said ‘it sat in the gut’.”

As previously reported, BFI Fellowships were bestowed upon Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter.

Greg Dyke, Chair, BFI said: ‘The BFI London Film Festival Awards pay tribute to outstanding film talent, so we are delighted and honoured that both Tim Burton, one of the most creative and visionary directors and Helena Bonham Carter, one of our finest British actresses have both accepted BFI Fellowships - the highest accolade the BFI can bestow. I also want to congratulate all the filmmakers honoured with nominations this year, for their vision, skill, passion and creativity.

The LFF wraps on Sunday with a gala closing screening of Mike Newell’s Great Expectations.

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