A French prison drama – which just missed out on the Palme D’Or in Cannes this year – has won the Best Film Prize at the London Film Festival. For the first time in its fifty three year history, Britain’s biggest film event has introduced a competitive strand.
The actress Anjelica Huston — who chaired the Best Film jury — said A Prophet had the ambition, purity of vision and clarity of purpose to make it an instant classic.
As well as beating off competition from the Cannes winner The White Ribbon, Jacques Audiard’s drama was also challenged by the British films Bright Star, about the poet John Keats, and Nowhere Boy, about the early years of John Lennon – as well as the new film from the Coen Brothers, A Serious Man, and George Clooney’s animation, Fantastic Mr Fox.
Sir Ridley Scott’s daughter Jordan was nominated in the Best British Newcomer award, for her debut feature Cracks, as were the writer and director of Kicks, the director of 44 Inch Chest, and the director of The Scouting Book for Boys. But the “Star of London” prize went to Scouting Book’s writer Jack Thorne.
The BFI – which runs the festival – also honoured two film-makers with fellowships – Souleymane Cissé, from Mali, and the actor John Hurt.
Two other awards, which have been handed out in previous years, went to films from the Middle East. Ajami – co-directed by and Israeli and a Palestinian – won the Sutherland Trophy for the best original first film. And the documentary Defamation, about anti-semitism, was awarded the Grierson Prize.