French prison drama wins London festival award

Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:41pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - French prison drama "A Prophet" won the inaugural best picture award at the London film festival Wednesday, going one better than in Cannes where it was runner-up to Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon."

Jacques Audiard directed the gritty thriller about Malik, a young man who is sentenced to six years in prison and must use his ingenuity to survive a dangerous standoff between gangs.

"More exciting than 'Mesrine', more enthralling than 'Public Enemies', this is undoubtedly the crime drama of the year," the film festival said in its website description of the movie.

Another inaugural award this year, best British newcomer, went to Jack Thorne who wrote the screenplay for "The Scouting Book For Boys," a story exploring the anxieties of being a teen-ager and set during a hazy British summer.

The longstanding Sutherland Trophy for a debut feature went to Israeli Yaron Shani and Palestinian Scandar Copti and their movie "Ajami," a crime drama set on the streets of a tough Jaffa neighborhood rife with ethnic tension.

The Grierson Award, honoring documentaries, was won by Israeli film maker Yoav Shamir's "Defamation," which tackles anti-Semitism.

Two British Film Institute Fellowships were also handed out at an awards ceremony in London.

One went to British actor John Hurt, best known for his roles in "The Elephant Man," for which he was nominated for an Oscar, and "1984," based on the George Orwell novel.

"For me, the BFI is the heart of British cinema," the 69-year-old said in a statement. "I consider it the highest honor possible to be awarded a Fellowship."   Continued...

<p>Director Jacques Audiard reacts after receiving his Grand Prix award for the film "Un Prophete" during the award ceremony of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>