Monday, 20 October 2014

Fury closes London Film Festival

Peter Comfort and Brad Pitt
( Gareth Cattermole/Getty for BFI)
Brad Pitt’s World War Two drama Fury closed the BFI London Film Festival last night in the company of a veteran of the conflict. The film, directed by David Ayer, sees Pitt play a Sherman tank commander leading his crew on a mission behind enemy lines in 1945.

Ex-tank crewman Peter Comfort, 90, who had worked as an adviser on Fury, joined Pitt and co-stars Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal on the red carpet in Leicester Square.

Pitt said the film did not seek to glorify war and acknowledged the trauma of conflict. He reflected: “It is an amazing fact of human nature that one year we can be chopping each other up, the next we can be sharing a pint. We continually devolve into conflict, no matter how much we evolve.”

Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf
( David J Hogan/Getty for BFI)
The film was shot in the UK, with Germany recreated in Oxfordshire and at Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire using vintage vehicles from the Tank Museum. Pitt said: “There's nothing ergonomical about a tank," Pitt admitted. "You were always getting banged up on something. But we were forced to familiarise ourselves with the tank and we all found our little comfort spots. I became quite proprietorial about it.”

Fury is released in the UK on Wednesday. It was the number one movie at the US box office this weekend, with takings of £23.5m.

BFI festival director Clare Stewart said this year’s LFF had a record audience turnout of 163,300, a 7.5% increase on last year. The London Film Festival opened on 8 October with another WWII film, The Imitation Game, about codebreaker Alan Turing. 

Leviathan named Best Film at London Film Festival

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan was named Best Film at the 58th BFI London Film Festival. The film that tells a tragic tale of conflict between an individual and a corrupt system in a small Russian town.

The award was announced by Jeremy Thomas, BFI Fellow and President of the Official Competition jury, who said: “We were all very engaged by the 12 films selected for Competition and really admired many of them, there were extraordinary stories and impressive images. But there was one film that we were unanimous in wanting to award Best Film, Leviathan directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Its grandeur and themes moved all of us in the same way.”

Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
(Gareth Cattermole/Getty 
Images for BFI)
The jury also commended Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood about a young woman’s search for identity in the underprivileged suburbs of Paris.

The Sutherland Award, presented to the director of the most original and imaginative first feature, was presented to the Ukranian drama The Tribe. Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s film is set in a school for young, deaf people and acted entirely in sign language.

Producer Luc Roeg said: “This year’s Sutherland Award presented a varied and interesting line-up of films from around the world but Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe distinguished itself as the most original and powerful of all the contenders. The young non-professional cast were all exceptional, but special mention must go to Yana Novikova. Slaboshpytskiy makes an audacious and highly accomplished debut as writer/director and has marked himself out as a true auteur. It’s a pleasure and privilege to commend the work.”

The jury commended Naja Abu Nowar’s Theeb about orphaned brothers on a treacherous journey across the desert in the far reaches of the Ottoman Empire on the eve of the Arab revolt.

Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan’s Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait won The Grierson Award for the best documentary. Director and producer Sophie Fiennes said: “The jury were deeply affected by this film. Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan's portrait of Syria is both unflinching and poetic. It is hard to watch, because the fact of war is and should be unbearable. Bedirxan's passionate and courageous quest to be a reliable witness, while trying to comprehend and survive her desperate situation in Homs, is profoundly moving. Ossama Mohammed's exile in Paris, resonates with our own safe distance from this war, but the miracle of the film is how it engages us.”

Sameena Jabeen Ahmed won the Best British Newcomer Award for her performance in Catch Me Daddy. Jury president, producer Finola Dwyer,
said: “We were unanimous in our decision to award actress Sameena Jabeen Ahmed the Best British Newcomer Award for her breakout performance in Catch Me Daddy. Sameena's performance was very assured, confident and fearless. In the lead role of Laila, Sameena's range of emotion was breathtaking; she was the heartbeat of the film.”

Stephen Frears (BFI/Getty)
The British film director Stephen Frears was presented to the British film director Stephen Frears by playwright and screenwriter Sir David Hare who said: “I can’t think of anyone who’s made a richer, more diverse or more consistently intelligent contribution to British film in my life-time”.

Frears films include My Beautiful Launderette, Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity, The Queen and Philomena, which won a Bafta and four Oscar nominations. Frears started his career in TV drama, working with writers including Hare, Alan Bennett, Stephen Poliakoff and Sir Tom Stoppard.

When presented with his award, Frears said: "My mother would be surprised that I'm standing here. She’d still be wondering when I’m going to get a proper job. I think she thought I’d end up in prison."

The Festival Awards’ took place at The Banqueting House, Whitehall, with guests including James Corden, Sophie Fiennes, Dexter Fletcher, Christopher Hampton, Ian Hart, Sir David Hare, John Hurt, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, James McAvoy, Ben Miller, Lynda Myles, Ben Rivers, Luc Roeg and Jeremy Thomas.

Film London Micro Market provided training for emerging talent

Networking at the London film markets
Training for the emerging filmmaking talent was providing the Film London Micro Market, the UK-wide micro-budget finance market ran alongside the Film London Production Finance Market (PFM) and the BFI London Film Festival. 

Financiers at the Market included Metrodome Group, Altitude Film Entertainment, Creativity Capital, Backup Media, Independent Film Sales, Ingenious, Just Temptation, Tinderbox Film Finance, Eleven Fifty-Five, Soda Pictures, Picturehouse and Vertigo Films.

With a number of financing deals in the works, Film London said feedback from delegates has been positive. Claire Binns, programming and acquisitions director at Picturehouse, said: “Film London's Micro Market gave me a fantastic, curated line-up of low budget feature projects, many of which I will follow up on.”

Producer Carolina Giammetta said: “Top advice from top industry experts on Film London's Micro Market 2014 training, followed by an amazing day of back to back meetings with financiers pitching our film Cradle Me. Came away on a massive high.”

Funded by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund and taking place in London on 15-16 October, Micro Market enabled 24 filmmaking teams to have access to a series of meetings with financiers looking to source projects with a budget of €1m and under. They also received comprehensive training in pitching and packaging their projects and attended Market Place Live ahead of a day packed full of meetings.

Following last year’s pilot edition, which resulted in a number of financing deals, there was strong competition to attend the Market. Film London received over 100 applications from across the UK.
Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and British Film Commission said: “Our Micro Market was an obvious and complimentary extension of the PFM and it is great to see it developing. I look forward seeing the deals nailed down and ultimately the projects being produced and I hope the talent who attended will build on the vital skills and experience they have gained.”

Deborah Sathe, Film London’s head of talent development and production, added:  “Last year’s inaugural market was a huge achievement, with one project fully funded and others on their way – it really works! The buzz at the two day Market was fantastic and with the financiers impressed with so many of the projects and filmmakers they met, I hope we can reveal more success stories soon.”