Ida takes Best Film at London Film Festival

First Feature award goes to Ilo Ilo.

by Jennie Kermode

Ida
Ida

Pawel Pawlikowski's challenging drama Ida, set in Poland's Jewish community in the Sixties, has won the coveted Best Film award at this year's London Film Festival awards. Starring Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska, the film follows an orphan's quest to uncover her family's tragic history and, in the process, discover her own identity.

"The jury greatly admired Ida, the first film made in his native Poland by a director who came to prominence while living in Britain. We were deeply moved by a courageous film that handles, with subtlety and insight, a painfully controversial historical situation – the German occupation and the Holocaust – which continues to resonate," said Jury President Philip French.

Hosted by Joanna Lumley, the ceremony not only celebrated the quality of films shown at this year's festival but also kicked off Awards Season proper, so we will now see a continuing succession of awards events right up until the Oscars.

Jonathan Asser won Best Newcomer at the age of 49 for his father/son prison drama Starred Up while the Best First Feature prize was taken by Anthony Chen for the Singapore-set Ilo Ilo.

My Fathers, My Mother And Me, the story of a Viennese commune, took Best Documentary, with director Paul-Julien Robert shyly delighted at his unexpected success. The jury called it "a thought-provoking and disturbing film."

And of course there was that celebrated BFI Fellowship for Christopher Lee, with the award handed over by longstanding fan Johnny Depp. "He's a true gentleman. He is a national treasure and he is a genuine artist," said Depp before adding simply "I love you."

"He is one of the very few young actors on the screen today who is truly a star," said Lee of Depp, returning the compliment. Of his own characters, he said simply "I get a very strange feeling that they were all played by somebody else."

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