Bend It Like Beckham won the Euros 15,000 Prix UIP for best European film on Friday 21 June at Sydney Film Festival closing night and was voted the most popular film by audiences at one of the event's two venues. Another UK film, Paul Greengrass's Bloody Sunday, was voted best film at the other venue.
"I am absolutely thrilled and delighted," said director, producer and co-writer Gurinder Chadha, who was a guest of the festival. "Sydney is the first festival Bend It Like Beckham has played at and it won the top prize in my view - the audience award. As a filmmaker it is always heartening for me to see audiences respond so warmly to my work. From the bottom of my heart, thank-you!"
"It is a tribute to the audience in Sydney that they can sit back and enjoy a 1914 silent (Cabiria), a film which deals with refugee issues (Borders) or a crowd-pleaser (Bend It Like Beckham)," said festival director Gayle Lake, referring to the overall audience votes. "Programs like Unseen Cinema Early American Avant Garde Film 1893-1941, the Jean Eustache Retrospective and the Iranian Focus all challenge the audience in different ways and it is great to see them all represented in the top ten."
Anand Patwardhan's War And Peace was the winner of the inaugural Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique (FIPRESCI) Prize for documentary. It is the first time a FIPRESCI has been awarded in Australia.
The audience top five at the State Theatre were:
Bend It Like Beckham (UK/US/Germany), Gurinder Chadha
The Laramie Project (US), Moises Kaufman
The Navigators (UK), Ken Loach
Minor Mishaps (Denmark), Annette K. Olesen
Borders (France), Mostefa Djadjam
The audience top five at Dendy Opera Quays were:
Bloody Sunday (UK), Paul Greengrass
Baran (Iran), Majid Majidi
A Fun Night Out with Severed Heads (Australia),
Tar Angel (Canada), Denis Chouinard
My Little Loves (France), Jean Eustache