45 Years wins Michael Powell at EIFF

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl takes international prize

by Amber Wilkinson

Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling in Michael Powell Award winner 45 Years.
Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling in Michael Powell Award winner 45 Years. Photo: Agatha A. Nitecka © 45 Years Film Ltd
The Edinburgh Internation Film Festival announced its awards today, with the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film going to Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, which received its UK Premiere at the Festival. His portrait of a fractured relationship is described by our critic as a "breathtaking, abrasive drama that relies on subtle infractions to deliver a gut punch of emotion". The award was presented by actor Jane Seymour.

The Michael Powell Jury said: “We’re delighted to present the Michael Powell Award for best British feature. This year it goes to a quietly explosive film which represents classic filmmaking at its best. This is a measured yet provocative film, a masterclass in understated acting that was the unanimous choice of the jury.”

Director Andrew Haigh said: “This is a real honour and made even more special when you consider the list of British films that have won before. All you can hope for when you make a film is that it resonates with people and that is why receiving an award such as this feels so fantastic.”

The winner was chosen by the Michael Powell Jury, chaired by LA Times film critic Kenneth Turan with actor/director Karen Gillan and actor Ian Hart. Special Mentions were given to Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s The Stanford Prison Experiment and J. Davis’ Manson Family Vacation.

The Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film was shared between James Cosmo for his performance in The Pyramid Texts and Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years.

Jury member Ian Hart said: “There’s an old actor’s joke when someone’s rehearsing a scene and they come across a certain piece of text and they say I don’t need that line, I can do that with a look. But most people can’t so the line goes back in. But certain people can, they can do more with a gesture, they can do more with a look than most people can do with ten words, and this is why this award goes to Charlotte Rampling.”

Jury member Karen Gillan said: “I think I speak to all up and coming Scottish actors when I say James Cosmo is a huge inspiration, his acting is a lesson to us all, you show us how it’s done.”

Charlotte Rampling said: “It is an extraordinary moment when you are singled out when the craft that you have been perfecting throughout your life is appreciated and rewarded. It is thrilling and humbling and I thank you so much for giving me the chance to feel so proud. I thank Andrew Haigh for seeing what he sees, Tom Courtenay for moving me to tears, and Tristan Golligher for believing that this could be made.”

The Award for Best International Feature Film was awarded to US director Marielle Heller for The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, which received its UK Premiere at EIFF. The award is given to filmmakers from outside of the UK in recognition of their imagination and innovation. Director Amy Berg chaired the International Feature Film Competition Jury, with actors Archie Panjabi and Natascha McElhone. The Award was presented by EIFF Honorary Patron, Seamus McGarvey.

The International Competition Jury said: “The Diary of a Teenage Girl is imaginative both visually and narratively, emotionally gripping and completely unapologetic in tone. We had a tough decision to make as we had some very strong contenders.”

Marielle Heller said: “Although this is an American film, it was made by a very international group, including our North Star, the British Bel Powley, whose brave performance is the heart of this film. I am so pleased to have such a prestigious UK premiere for the film at Edinburgh, and I am especially thrilled for Bel's performance to be brought to her home turf for the first time. And I am so honoured by this award, which was a wonderful shock.”

The Award for Best Documentary Feature Film was given to Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack. The winner was selected by the Best Documentary Feature Film Jury, chaired by AFI Festival Director Jacqueline Lyanga, with actors Denis Lawson and Jo Hartley.

The Best Documentary Feature Film Jury said: “Out of a very strong field, the Jury has selected The Wolfpack as the best documentary in competition at the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival. Shot over five years, the director Crystal Moselle turned a chance encounter with six brothers into an intriguing, intimate portrait that shines a light on the warmth, humour and underlying tension of an extraordinary situation.”

Scrapbook, directed by Mike Hoolboom, won The Award for Best Short Film. The award was bestowed by the Short Films Jury, which was chaired by director Kyle Patrick Alvarez with actors Dolly Wells and Jaime Winstone. Special Mentions went to Juliana Bao’s performance in Maruani Landa’s Cipriana and Ahmet Simsek’s performance in Jannis Lenz’s Shadowboxer.

The Short Films Jury citation read: “We found Scrapbook to be incredibly unique, singularly captivating, unlike anything we have seen before. Congratulations to Mike Hoolboom on making such a moving film. We would also like to give a special mention to the lead actress in Cipriana, Juliana Boa who gave an incredibly brave performance for such a young actress. We would also like to give a special mention to Ahmet Simsek’s performance in Shadowboxer whose work we found incredibly moving and touching, a really captivating performance.”

Mike Hoolboom said: “I feel touched this afternoon by a hand that has reached all the way across the Atlantic to find me in my Toronto home: who knew that hands could reach that far, and with such kindness. It reminds me that the cinema is able, sometimes, at least occasionally, to bring far away people so close, close enough that they can feel like part of our lives, and help us with this fundamental task: how can we get along with each other?”

Voted for by the audience, The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation, supported by the British Council, went to Stems by director Ainslie Henderson.

The Student Critics Jury Award, supported by James and Morag Anderson, was awarded by Jury members Catriona Morton and Sunrise Ishimwe to Black Mountain Poets directed by Jamie Adams.

The Student Critics Jury citation read: “We’ve seen such a variety of films, and all of us have our favourites, and our guilty pleasures – and what’s more, they’ve all been very different! It was genuinely challenging to pick just one – but in the end, our vote was unanimous.”

Jamie Adams, director of Black Mountain Poets said: “The idea that a dozen or so students have concluded that our movie Black Mountain Poets is the one that has excited their collective imaginations the most out of the brilliant movies they considered is a beautiful thing - it reminds me why we set out to create our modern romance trilogy in the first place.”

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