As this year’s BFI London Film Festival draws to a close, it’s clear that 2021 has delivered an especially brilliant edition of the event – one that brought audiences together at long last, blasting attendees into a new vision of the Old West in The Harder They Fall, having people screaming in their seats at DASHCAM and Last Night In Soho, teleporting viewers into Wes Anderson’s pristine imagination in The French Dispatch, connecting us all with our inner children in Petite Maman, and much, much more. Impeccable films, thrilling cinema experiences, and lots and lots of coffee – it’s been good to be home. But, the festival is more than just a celebration of cinema – there are prizes too, and the winners of this year’s competition have now been revealed.
Best Film went to Hit The Road, the Iranian road movie by writer-director Panah Panahi. The Sutherland Award for a filmmaker’s first feature went to Belgian writer-director Laura Wandel for Playground – along with a Special Commendation for Laura Samani’s film Small Body. The Grierson Award for Documentary went to Liz Garbus’ Becoming Cousteau, with a Special Commendation for Sergey Loznitsa’s Babi Yar. Context. The winner in the Immersive Art and XR Competition was Duncan Speakman’s Only Expansion, with a Special Commendation for Leon Oldstrong’s Virtually There. The Short Film award went to Diana Cam Van Nguyen’s Love, Dav, with Special Commendations for The Bang Straws, by Michelle Williams Gamaker, and Precious Hair & Beauty by John Ogunmuyiwa. Finally, the Audience Award went to Mounia Akl’s Costa Brava, Lebanon.
For anyone who’s spent most of the last two weeks hanging around Leicester Square and the Southbank heading into multiple films a day – or your local cinema elsewhere in the country, where simultaneous screenings have been taking place – go home, get some rest, and start preparing for next year’s fest.