Dominic Murphy’s White Lightnin’ and Jamie Jay Johnson’s Sounds Like Teen Spirit took the top prizes at this year’s Dinard British Film Festival, which closed on Saturday October 10.

The festival, held in Brittany in France, handed the Le Hitchcock d’Or (Grand Jury Prize) to Murphy’s White Lightnin’. The prize includes a grant for the director plus further money for its French distribution.The hallucinatory hillbilly drama is the director’s first feature. The film also picked up the Kodak sponsored Hitchcock Blanc for cinematography.

Meanwhile, Johnson scooped the Le Hitchcock D’Argent, voted for by the audience, for his documentary about the teen version of the Eurovision song contest. It was produced by Stephen Woolley and Liz Karlsen’s Number 9 Films.

Johnson, who told the packed auditorium that he “had never won anything before,” described his time at the festival as “one of the best experiences I’ve had with the movie.”

The Hitchcock de Bronze, prix Coup de Coeur, which is backed by Brittany cinema exhibitors and enables the winning film to be screened in 40 local cinemas, went to Duncan Jones’s Moon.  The film’s producer Stuart Fenegan was presented with the award by British actress Natalie Press at the ceremony on Saturday evening.

Henrique Goldman took the best screenplay award for Jean Charles, which tells the tragic true story of Jean Charles de Menezes. The Brazilian man was mistakenly shot by British police on the London Underground in the wake of the July 7 bombings in 2005. Tristan Whalley of Goal Post Films, who is handling international sales, told ScreenDaily that a UK distribution deal is imminent.

This year’s jury was led by French writer/director Jean Paul Rappeneau and also included British actors Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville as well as UK director Paul Andrew Williams.

The 20th anniversary edition of the festival opened on Thursday (October 8) with a screening of Richard Laxton’s Quentin Crisp biopic An Englishman in NewYork, which was introduced by Oscar-nominated actor John Hurt, while Julian Fellowes’ From Time To Time was the closing night film. French premieres screened at the event included Lone Scherfig’s An Education, Eran Creevy’s Shifty and Shane Meadows’ Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee. Meadows and his producer Mark Herbert, who are regular Dinard attendees, were at the festival to introduce the film.

Ticket sales for the festival, which is sponsored by the UK Film Council, British Council and France’s CNC, rose to 27,500 for this year compared to 26,000 last year.

The event is as well known for its networking opportunities as for its screenings. Chris Smith, whose film, Triangle was shown at this year’s festival, said: “I’ve been to so many festivals recently where you don’t get to meet any other film-makers because you’re always running around, so this is great. It’s a quieter, more civilized version of Cannes.”

Meanwhile, UK film critic Derek Malcolm, who hosted a panel discussion about the state of the British film industry, with directors including Pawel Pawlikowski and Ben Hopkins, described the festival as a place “where the British come to meet the British.”

The festival also hosts a number of events aimed at encouraging the British and French industries to discuss key issues including new ways of accessing European talent and funding.

One question which was raised during the event was whether the UKFC’s £22m drop in funding will affect future editions of the festival. 

The full-line up of films in competition for the Hitchcock d’Or award:

  • Crying With Laughter, Dir: Justin Molotnikov
  • In The Loop, Dir: Armando Iannucci
  • Jean Charles, Dir: Henrique Goldman
  • She, A Chinese, Dir: Xiaolu Guo
  • White Lightnin’, Dir: Dominic Murphy
  • Sounds Like Teen Spirit, Dir: Jamie Jay Johnson