Edinburgh Film Festival gives top prize to foreign language film from local director

Local director Ben Sharrock's Pikadero won the top prize at EIFF2016
Local director Ben Sharrock’s Pikadero won the top prize at EIFF2016

The 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival has given its top prize – The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film – to the Scottish director Ben Sharrock, for his debut film, Pikadero, a Spain-set drama in Spanish and Basque.

The honour, which last year went to 45 Years, was awarded by a jury led by the actress Kim Cattrall, who said “We wanted to recognise the very personal and individual voice of director Ben Sharrock,” noting that Pikadero “really stood out” from a selection of “very distinctive” films. Sharrock said he was thrilled and honoured, stressing that such recognition would help him “get the film out to as wide an audience as possible.” He said it had been a very special experience to have the film’s UK premiere at the festival in his home city.

The same jury gave the award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film to Catrin Stewart, for her role in The Library Suicides. “The complexities and subtleties of playing twin characters is challenging and she managed to achieve the rare feat of making each of the two roles she played truly distinctive,” the jury explained. Stewart said she felt hugely honoured to win the award for her first feature role and in a Welsh language film.

Suntan, from the Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos, was named the Best International Feature Film by a jury including the actors Angus Macfadyen and Sadie Frost. The jurors said the film was “a compelling and unflinching portrait of one man’s journey from infatuation to desperation” and was the title that really resonated with them.

Johan Grimonprez’s Shadow World, which examines the global arms trade, won the award for the Best Documentary Feature. The jury, including the Scottish actor Dougray Scott, described the film as “extraordinary, powerful, poignant and provocative.”

Igor Kovalyov’s Before Love was named the Best Short Film and the McLaren Award for Best British Animation went to Simon’s Cat – Off to the Vet, by Simon Tofield.

The festival’s audience award will be announced at the closing night gala, that brings an end to twelve days of screenings of more than 160 features and 130 shorts from 55 countries.