The BFI London Film Festival closed Sunday night with a glitzy premiere of Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, with stars Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet in town to tub-thump the well-received picture about the iconic Apple co-founder. Earlier in the weekend, the fest’s awards ceremony was dominated by women filmmakers, a fitting end to an edition that had seen the debate about gender equality dominate from the opening night.
Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari won the best film prize for Chevalier, a biting, playful dissection of the male ego featuring six men on a boat. Robert Eggers won the Sutherland Trophy for best first film for The Witch, about a 17th-century New England family torn apart by tension and the suspicion of witchcraft. Martin Butler & Bentley Dean’s Tenna was also commended. The Grierson Award for the best documentary went to Jennifer Peedom’s Sherpa, a gripping account of tragedy and mayhem on Mount Everest. Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel won the best short film award for An Old Dog’s Diary while, as previously announced, Cate Blanchett received the BFI’s highest honour, the BFI Fellowship.
“The festival has been rich and memorable in amplifying the focus on gender equality and diversity in the film industry at the same time as stimulating discussion about how film connects with broader creative industries,” commented festival director Clare Stewart.
The festival, which was branded “the year of the strong woman,” announced 157,000 attendances across film screenings and events, and an additional UK-wide audience of over 10,000, slightly down from last year’s record-breaking attendance of 163,300 plus 12,000 UK-wide. A total of 238 fiction and docu features screened, with 16 world premieres, eight international premieres, 40 European premieres and five restoration world premieres. There were also 182 live action and animated shorts.
Actress Geena Davis gave the keynote address at Global Symposium on Gender in Media, hosted by the LFF in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Women in Film and Television. The LFF’s new Connects series featured Christopher Nolan and Tacita Dean, Guy Maddin, Louis Theroux with Simon Chinn, Chris Milk, Alistair Hope and Laurie Anderson discuss the future of film and how it engaged with other creative industries.