EIFF announces winners

Michael Powell jury over Moon about Duncan Jones' debut

by Amber Wilkinson

Duncan Jones and Stuart Fenegan receive the Michael Powell Award from Sean Connery <em>Photo: Margaret Drysdale/EIFF</em>
Peter Capaldi reprises his role as spin doctor Malcolm Tucker

Duncan Jones' Moon has been announced as the winner of the Michael Powell Award for best new British feature film at the 63rd edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The sci-fi film, which marks the feature debut of Duncan Jones, tells the story of an space engineer who is losing the plot at the end of a three-year mission. It beat Andrea Arnold's hotly-tipped Fish Tank to the £20,000 cash prize.

The Jury said: "We award Moon for its singular vision and remarkably assured direction as well as for the inspired manner in which it transcends genre. The central performance by Sam Rockwell embodies the film's emotional complexity and compelling philosophical perspective."

Speaking after the ceremony, Duncan said: "I'm absolutely gob-smacked, and so thrilled! Can't believe it and to top it off, I was handed the award by Sir Sean Connery. Was so lovely, as his film Outland was a key inspiration for Moon."

Fish Tank didn't completely lose out, however, with lead actress Katie Jarvis scooping the award for best performance in a British feature.

The jury - led by Atonement director Joe Wright - said: "We award Katie Jarvis' performance for her portrayal of obsessive first love and visceral alienation. The moral ambiguity is illuminated by this extraordinary debut."

Katie Jarvis added: "This has been an amazing year for me in more ways than one. I was lucky enough to spend my 18th birthday in Edinburgh last week and this is such a great 18th present. It is a real honour to receive this award, both for myself and the film. I would like to thank Andrea for the opportunity and for believing in me."

It was a year for debut directors in Edinburgh and, after a hotly contested festival, Tomm Moore's first film, family animation the Secret Of Kells beat off stiff competition from Moon and The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life to win the Standard Life Audience Award.

The International Feature Award - a new prize category at the festival this year - went to another first-timer, Kyle Patrick Alvarez, for Easier With Practice - which sees an unpublished author's life changed by a seemingly random phonecall.

The jury - Alan Cumming, author Lee Marshall and Kerry Fox - branded it an "astonishingly assured writing and directing debut, distinguished by a gift for original storytelling, a striking visual aesthetic, and a series of powerfully revealing and truthful performances".

The documentary strand has been particularly strong at Edinburgh this year. The Jury - led by Kirby Dick - awarded the top gong to Boris Ryzhy, an exploration of the poet's life, directed by Aliona Van der Horst.

The jury said it was a unanimous decision given "for a visually stunning, imaginative, sensitive and ultimately revealing portrait of both an individual psyche and a national predicament".

The Skillset new directors award of £5000 went to debut feature director Cary Joji Fukunaga for Sin Nombre - a story which sees the life of a Honduran migrant cross the path of a gangland youth fleeing his past.

Neil Peplow Skillset's Director of Film, said: "Sin Nombre is a work of staggering achievement. It is a highly ambitious and accomplished film, let alone as a first feature. Cary has shown himself a future talent to reckon with, and completely deserves this award. I hope it goes some way to helping him get his next features produced and distributed, and I look forward to seeing his career flourish."

Rounding out the feature awards was the Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus award which went to Lynn Shelton's bromantic comedy Humpday.

Emma Sullivan's After Tomorrow was named best British short, with Kazik Radwankski's Princess Margaret Bld picking up the gong in the international category. The Scottish short documentary prize went to Johanna Wagner's Peter In Radioland, while the McLaren Award for animation went to Photograph Of Jesus.

John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council, sponsor of the award, added: "The UK Film Council's support of the EIFF underlines our deep commitment to celebrating and nurturing film talent. Winning the Michael Powell Award confirms Duncan Jones as an emerging British director with a very bright future. And I'm delighted for Emma Sullivan, awarded the short film prize for After Tomorrow, and newcomer Katie Jarvis, winner of the best performance prize for Fish Tank, both of whose films were funded through the Film Council's New Cinema Fund."

EIFF Artistic Director, Hannah McGill said: "I'm delighted by these results and I thank our juries for their hard work and their presence in Edinburgh, which helped to make this year's Festival so exciting. It says a lot about EIFF and its mission as a discovery festival that Duncan Jones, Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Tomm Moore and Cary Joji Fukunaga are all first-time feature directors. We have had a fantastic year and I'm thrilled that all of our prizewinners have been part of it, as well as, of course, all the other filmmakers who've attended and given us the privilege of screening their work. I hope their success here helps them go forward in their careers, and I hope we'll see them all back in Edinburgh in the future with further work."

Speaking at the awards ceremony, EIFF patron Sir Sean Connery blasted the BBC for their lack of coverage, since they have been favouring Glastonbury over the film fest.

Here at Eye For Film, we've certainly been paying attention, having watched most of the short films and all but four of the features screened this year. Among our favourites were Fish Tank, Turn It Loose, West Point, Milk, Black Dynamite, Mary & Max, Surrogate, Paper Soldier, Humpday, Pontypool and Moon. Look out for the rest of our review coverage in the next few days.

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