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BFI London Film Fest

BFI London Film Festival: all the winners of the 67th edition.

todayOctober 16, 2023

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67th BFI London Film Festival Awards: Celebrating Cinematic Excellence

The 67th BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, has concluded with a spectacular celebration of cinematic excellence. This year’s LFF Awards showcased a remarkable range of talent from around the world, with winning films spanning diverse themes and stories. The festival, held from 4 to 15 October 2023, featured a range of competition sections, each honouring the most innovative and provocative new films and cinematic storytelling.

A Glimpse into the Winners

The winning films were selected by four distinguished LFF juries and explored a fascinating array of themes and stories, showcasing the depth of creativity in the world of filmmaking. These winning films encompassed:

Scene from the film Evil does not exist
Scene from the film Evil does not exist
  • Best Film Award in Official Competition – “Evil Does Not Exist” by Ryusuke Hamaguchi
    Ryusuke Hamaguchi, renowned for “Drive My Car,” presents a gripping drama about a community’s fight to preserve its principles and the integrity of its natural surroundings. A planned camping site development threatens to change the peaceful village of Mizubiki forever, and the film delves deep into the pressing issues of value and survival. The Official Competition jury praised its lyrical portrayal of family and community.
  • Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition – “Paradise Is Burning” by Mika Gustafson
    Mika Gustafson’s debut feature portrays the spirited tale of siblings navigating the pleasures and pitfalls of life ‘home alone.’ With their mother absent, the sisters find joy in their freedom, and their futures hang in the balance. The jury lauded the film’s clarity of cinematic language and vision.
  • Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition – “Bye Bye Tiberias” by Lina Soualem
    Lina Soualem offers a deeply personal and joyful exploration of her relationship with her mother, acclaimed actor Hiam Abbass. This documentary weaves an elegant exploration of three generations of women and their connections to Tiberias, Palestine. The Documentary Competition jury commended the film’s poetic and intimate storytelling.
  • Short Film Award in the Short Film Competition – “The Archive: Queer Nigerians” by Simisolaoluwa Akande
    This poetic film documents the experiences of queer Nigerians, expanding our contemporary understanding of queerness. The Short Film Competition jury praised its visual beauty, poetic storytelling, and empathetic portrayal of the subjects.

    Audience Awards

    In addition to the official competition winners, the festival also featured the Audience Awards. Audiences had the opportunity to vote for their favourite works, be it fiction, documentary, short, or immersive work. Four awards were presented for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best British Film or Work, and Best XR. Voting was open from Sunday, October 15th and closed at 23:59 on Thursday, October 19th.

    Statements from the Winners

    Ryusuke Hamaguchi, the director of “Evil Does Not Exist” expressed his gratitude for receiving the Best Film Award, emphasizing the exceptional work of the cast and crew, as well as the role of Eiko Ishibashi in the film’s music: “I believe her music played a significant role in bringing this movie to completion and helped it to receive such great reviews” said the director.

    Scene from the film Paradise in burning
    Scene from the film Paradise in burning

    Mika Gustafson, director of “Paradise Is Burning” felt honoured to receive the Sutherland Trophy for Best First Feature: “It is a great honour to receive this prize at BFI London Film Festival. Previously awarded to such greats as Julia Decournau and Andrea Arnold. This gives me a lot of energy and courage to keep working and on my next project!”

    Lina Soualem, the creator of “Bye Bye Tiberias” expressed heartfelt gratitude for the Grierson Award and the opportunity to celebrate the stories of Palestinian women in her family: “I thank them for having seen their struggles, felt their strength, mourned their losses, understood their complexities and accepted their contradictions. I thank them for having seen their humanity, and for deciding to highlight it. The stories passed on by these women weave the history of a people deprived of its identity and constantly bound to reinvent itself. This is a story about vanished places, life-changing experiences, and scattered memories. By making this film, I followed the same path as the women in my family. Passing on our story has always been central for us. With our words, we fight against erasure. I wanted to seize their stories before they vanish into oblivion, to preserve the images of a world that is disappearing fast. Images that stand as proof of a denied existence. At a time when we feel unseen, and more stigmatized than ever, at a time when we don’t know what tomorrow will be like, our films will always exist to remember us.”

    Simisolaoluwa Akande, the filmmaker behind “The Archive: Queer Nigerians” highlighted the importance of recognizing vital narratives and expressed hope for the continued growth of the archive: “We are immensely grateful for the warm embrace our film has received from the world. We are humbled by this recognition and eager to continue our journey of sharing vital narratives that deserve to be heard.

    About the Juries

    Distinguished jurors presided over various competition categories at the 67th BFI London Film Festival. The Official Competition was led by acclaimed Mexican director Amat Escalante, known for his Cannes Film Festival Best Director prize in 2013. The First Feature Competition jury was headed by British director Raine Allen-Miller, with Rubika Shah, a BAFTA Breakthrough recipient, leading the Grierson Award jury. Meanwhile, Charlotte Regan, a BAFTA-nominated writer and director, headed the Short Film Competition jury.

    Additional jurors included Kate Taylor, Program Director of the 2023 Edinburgh International Film Festival, and English Novelist Niven Govinden, who served in the Official Competition. In the First Feature Competition, Festival Director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Vanja Kaludjercic and musician, composer, filmmaker, and photographer Barry Adamson contributed. The Documentary Competition featured award-winning documentary filmmaker Jeanie Finlay and Australian film industry veteran Paul Tonta. Finally, the Short Film Competition included BFI Film Academy Young Programmer Francesca Tomlinson and director of photography Rina Yang, known for her work on various film and TV projects, including Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” music video.

    The 67th BFI London Film Festival showcased the power of storytelling, diversity, and the resilience of the human spirit. The winning films and their creators left an indelible mark on this year’s festival, reminding us of the universal language of cinema and its ability to connect people across cultures and boundaries.

    As the festival draws to a close, we eagerly anticipate the impact these films will have on the global cinematic landscape and look forward to the next edition of the BFI London Film Festival, where more remarkable stories and talent will undoubtedly be celebrated.

Written by: Federica Scarpa


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