harry wootliff hit the road

Source: The Bureau / Celluloid Dreams

Harry Wootliff, ‘Hit The Road’

True Things director Harry Wootliff has been awarded the £50,000 IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary award in association with the British Film Institute (BFI), as the 2021 BFI London Film Festival closed with a virtual awards ceremony on Sunday October 17.

Wootliff was chosen by a panel comprised of actor and filmmaker Phoebe Waller-Bridge and BFI CEO Ben Roberts, for one of the biggest financial prizes in the UK independent film industry.

Scroll down for the full list of winners.

True Things premiered in Horizons at the Venice Film Festival in September, and is Wootliff’s second feature after 2018’s Only You. It stars Tom Burke and Ruth Wilson in the story of a woman living on the fringes of society, who becomes intoxicated by a stranger who overwhelms her quiet life. It is produced by The Bureau, with backing from BBC Film and the BFI.

The other IWC nominees were Lee Haven Jones for his debut feature The Feast, and Rob Savage for second feature Dashcam.

Panah Panahi’s debut feature Hit The Road won the best film award in the official competition. Hit The Road premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes 2021; it follows a chaotic but tender family on a road trip across a rugged landscape.

“At all times in cinema history, but perhaps during a pandemic especially, we are looking for ways to connect to life,” said Malgorzata Szumowska, president of the official competition jury. “Our choice is for a film that made us laugh and cry and feel alive.”

The Sutherland award for best film in the first feature competition went to Laura Wandel’s Belgian film Playground, which also debuted at Cannes in Un Certain Regard.

“It’s an intimate film that everyone can identify with and connect with, and yet has a striking and singular voice, with a courageous commitment to its vision,” commented first feature competition president Isabel Sandoval. “It left us wanting to see more from this bold, audacious filmmaker.”

Five of the seven awards given out during Sunday’s virtual ceremony were for films directed by women.

Liz Garbus won the Grierson award in the documentary competition for Becoming Cousteau, about the life of French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Section jury president Kim Longinotto praised the film for highlighting “the most pressing issue of our time, climate change.”

The audience award was won by Costa Brava, Lebanon, the debut feature of Screen Arab Star of Tomorrow 2016 Mounia Akl, which premiered in the Horizons Extra section at Venice this year. The award was won last year by Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, which subsequently went on the win the Oscar for best international feature.

The 65th BFI London Film Festival closes this evening with Joel Coen’s The Tragedy Of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. 

BFI London Film Festival 2021 winners

IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary
Harry Wootliff, True Things

Best film
Hit The Road (Iran)
Dir. Panah Panahi

Best first feature
Playground (Bel)
Dir. Laura Wandel

Special commendation
Small Body (It-Fr-Bel)
Dir. Laura Samani

Best documentary
Becoming Cousteau (US)
Dir. Liz Garbus

Special commendation
Babi Yar. Context (Neth-Ukr)
Dir. Sergey Loznitsa

Immersive art and XR award
Only Expansion (UK)
Creator: Duncan Speakman

Special commendation
Virtually There (UK)
Creator: Leon Oldstrong

Audience award
Costa Brava, Lebanon (Leb-Fr-Sp-Swe-Den-Nor-Qat) 
Dir. Mounia Akl

Best short film
Love, Dad (Cze-Slov)
Dir. Diana Cam Van Nguyen

Special commendations
The Bang Straws (UK)
Dir. Michelle Williams Gamaker

Precious Hair & Beauty (UK) 
Dir. John Ogunmuyiwa