Johnny and Gheorghe, played by Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu, in God's Own Country Photo: Courtesy of EIFF
"I am thrilled with this honour for God's Own Country, especially when you consider the British films that have won before," said director Francis Lee upon learning that his film about a Romanian migrant worker had won the prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival today. The jury praised his "assured direction" and the "raw and endearing performances" that marked the film out.
The award for Best International Film went to Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov's black comedy Glory, about a railway worker whose honesty gets him in trouble whhen he finds a large sum of money blowing down the tracks and tries to do the right thing. "This award is a recognition not only for us, but also for Bulgarian cinema, which is currently on the rise again," said Valchanov, who described the award as a great honour.
Donkeyote will screen at the festival and feature a Q&A with director Chico Peirera
Best Documentary winner was Donkeyote, the tale of a man and his donkey, with the jury saying "Chico Pereira has a special relationship with his subjects, human and animal, and shows a warmth and respect for his characters. This truly cinematic film draws us in by slowly revealing its characters and emotions in a moving portrait."
"For some of us who live or lived in Edinburgh, it holds an extra special meaning: our formative cinema experiences have been with EIFF, and just to return for our UK premiere is an honour in itself," Pereira responded.
Also taking home awards were Emily Beecham and Anne Reid, who shared the award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film for their work in Daphne and in Kaleidoscope and Romans respectively. "It was an extraordinary experience working on the unique and special Daphne," said Beecham, while Reid said she was very excited by an award that was totally unexpected, and revealed that she hasn't even seen Romans yet.
This year's Best Short Film award went to The Full Story, with special mentions for Close To The Bone and 1745. The McLaren Award for Best British Animation was won by Poles Apart, and Piano To Zanskar won £2,500 as a work in progress.
Also announced today was the Best of the Fest list - those films which have proven good enough or popular enough to merit extra screenings between now and Sunday. It consists of Withnail And I, Edie, Cars 3, Song To Song, Kaleidoscope, Paris Can Wait, Godspeed (Yi Lu Shun feng), Sweet Virginia, Wakefield, Becoming Cary Grant, The Farthest, That Good Night, Waterboys, Teenage Superstars, The Dark Mile, The The: Infected and The Inertia Variations.