October 21, 2013 - 10:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.K. based Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida won this year's top prize at the BFI London Film Festival's official competition, walking off Saturday, October 19 evening with the best film nod, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The prizes were dished out at a high profile awards ceremony held at the Banqueting House, Whitehall in central London, a place normally associated with the British capital's mayor and political dinners.
Aiming to celebrate the "most original, intelligent and distinctive filmmaking," the best film award was announced by Philip French, recently awarded a BFI Fellowship and president of the official competition jury.
French said his jury had "greatly admired" Pawlikowski's first film made in his native Poland by a director who came to prominence while living in Britain.
"We were deeply moved by a courageous film that handles, with subtlety and insight, a painfully controversial historical situation – the German occupation and the Holocaust – which continues to resonate," French said. "Special praise went to his use of immersive visual language to create a lasting emotional impact."
Pawlikowski said that people had had doubts about a black-and-white film shot with a camera that doesn't move and actors unknown outside Poland. Some said it could turn out to be "a little bit of professional harakiri," he said. "But it doesn't seem to be the case, so I'm really relieved." Best British newcomer went to screenwriter Jonathan Asser for his uncompromising U.K. prison drama Starred Up, directed by David Mackenzie.
The best British newcomer award honors new and emerging film talent, recognizing the achievements of a new writer, producer, director, actor or actress.
Presented by Saoirse Ronan, the movie's title refers to the practice of placing violent young offenders prematurely in adult prison. Fox Searchlight picked up U.S. rights to the Channel Four backed movie after it screened at Telluride and Toronto earlier this year.
Jury president, movie producer Amanda Posey noted Asser's original story "told with an individual and authentic voice, at once moving, provocative and always gripping."
Said Posey: "The material, even from a new screenwriter, was intelligent and distinctive enough to attract very high quality filmmaking talent and actors, and to help illicit extraordinary work from all involved. The whole jury felt Jonathan Asser brought a fresh, resonant and surprising perspective to a classic conflict."
"It's wonderful to be a newcomer at 49," Asser, a psychotherapist who used to work with violent gang members in the largest U.K. prison, said in accepting his award. He also said that he was "very, very concerned" about the British prison system.
The jury also highly commended the performances of nominees Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas for their roles in The Selfish Giant.