A co-production involving seven countries has been named the winner of the Official Competition at the 2019 London Film Festival.
Monos – described as an intoxicating thriller about child soldiers – from Alejandro Landes, is Colombia’s entry for next year’s Foreign Language Oscar contest.
The president of the Official Competition Jury, the Colette and Still Alice director Wash Westmoreland, said “Monos is a stunning cinematic achievement; marrying dynamic visuals, faultless performances and groundbreaking storytelling. It’s a masterpiece!”
One of four British films in contention for the top prize, Saint Maud, earned its writer-director Rose Glass a commendation from the official competition jury, rounding off a festival which began with her being awarded a £50,000 grant from the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC. She told What’s Worth Seeing that the festival had been “nuts” and she had been “as surprised as anyone” that Saint Maud had been selected for the LFF. “I’ve been coming here nearly every year as a punter, so having my film included is quite surreal.” Westmoreland said “This dazzling directorial debut marks the emergence of a powerful new voice in British cinema.”
The jury also gave a special mention to Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy, based on the life of its writer and star Shia LaBeouf.
Mati Diop – the first black woman to direct a film in the official Cannes selection – won the Best First Film Sutherland Prize for Atlantics – or Atlantique, as it was known in Cannes.
The Little Joe director Jessica Hausner, who chaired the First Feature jury, said Atlantics intrigued the jurors with its “original and refreshing use of genre elements in a story that also has a strong political impact.”
The other main award of the night was the Grierson Prize for the Best Documentary at the festival and that went to Rubika Shah, for White Riot, an expansion of a short about how punk and reggae music formed the backbone of a campaign to fight against racism in the late 1970s.
The Oscar-nominated documentary maker Yance Ford, chaired the Documentary jury, and said the film implies that the lessons of the past were never learned. “Without nostalgia for 1979, the power of White Riot is that it points directly at 2019.”
And the London Film Festival’s newest award, for the Best Short Film, went to Iran’s Soheil Amirsharifi for Fault Line. The jurors said it provoked intense discussion as they continued to decode it, long after watching, with “its sophisticated layering of story, beautifully controlled performances and uncompromising and singular vision.” The jury’s president, the Ray & Liz producer Jacqui Davies, said “We were all desperate to watch this film again and again.”
The LFF’s director Tricia Tuttle said the nominated films were chosen to be a microcosm of the festival as a whole, in which more than two hundred features were screened. The higher profile films were shown at gala events outside the official competition strands – the final one, bringing the festival to a close tomorrow, is the highly anticipated UK premiere of Martin Scorsese’s epic crime thriller The Irishman, with an all-star cast including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel.