London Film Festival loves Joy

Prize winners announced and Tuttle takes up permanent role

by Amber Wilkinson

Joy named Best Film at London Film Festival
Joy named Best Film at London Film Festival Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival
Sudabeh Mortezai's Joy was named Best Film at London Film Festival this weekend. The movie, which scrutinises sex trafficking in Europe through the life of its titular Nigerian protagonist. A Special Commendation was also given to Cristina Gallego and Crio Guerra's Birds Of Passage (Pájaros de Verano).

Official Competition jury president Lenny Abrahamson, said: “Joy is a provocative and unique film offering a devastating portrait of human resilience in the most inhuman of environments. A raw, fresh view on sex trafficking with a sharp feminist perspective sewn in throughout — director Sudabeh Mortezai successfully immerses us in the women’s lives with her documentarist approach exploring the traps of abuse and extortion without ever becoming exploitative itself. A vital beautifully made film that my fellow jurors and I urge you to watch.”

Cannes Camera d’Or, Queer Palm and FIPRESCI winner Lukas Dhont added to his growing award tally for Girl, with the Sutherland Award, given to a best first feature at the festival.

Jury president Francis Lee said of the drama about a transgender teenager, who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer: "Girl is an extraordinary coming of age story featuring a truly remarkable central performance — it is not afraid to tackle a number of difficult subject matters which are dramatically effective and fully believable. Throughout there’s a complex balance between heartbreak and hope that keeps the audience absorbed – this is an imaginative and original directorial debut and my fellow jurors and I are excited to see what director, Lukas Dhont does next”.

The Grierson Award for documentary went to Roberto Minervini for What You Gonna Do When The World's On Fire, which follows the aftermath in Louisiana of a string of police shootings of black men.

Simon Chinn, Documentary Competition President said: “A truly thought-provoking and all too urgent documentary - through stunning and unflinching black and white frames we’re offered a raw and emotional snapshot of African-American life in the Deep South in the aftermath of a police shooting. It reveals, with both intimacy and empathy, the lives of those still fighting for dignity and respect at a time of enduring racial division and injustice nearly 6 decades after the birth of the civil rights movement. The powerful and subtle storytelling made the film a unanimous winner for the Jury.”

Short documentary Lasting Marks, directed by Charlie Lyne, which charts the story of men on trial for sadomasochim at the tail end of Margaret Thatcher's tenure, won the Short Film Award.

Rungano Nyoni, Short Film Competition President stated: “In a strong and diverse Shorts selection, Charlie Lyne’s Lasting Marks fascinated us all by resurrecting forgotten history. Uniquely presented as a slideshow of court documents and organised via an oral history by the prosecuted Roland Jaggard, Lyne recounts the story of a group of men put on trial for sadomasochism in the 1980s. A must watch.”

The festival has also announced that Tricia Tuttle, who was the festival's artistic director this year while Claire Stewart went on sabbatical, will take over permanently. She will become director of BFI festivals.

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