Audiard film wins best film at festival

Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet,” about a French-Arab thug’s education behind bars, won the inaugural award for best film at the 53rd London Film Festival on Wednesday evening.

Jury chair Anjelica Huston handed over the Star of London to Audiard for his pic, which won Cannes’ Grand Prix in May, during a ceremony at London’s Inner Temple.

John Hillcoat’s “The Road” drew a special mention from the jury, which included thesp Charlotte Rampling, directors John Akomfrah and Iain Softley, Gallic multihyphenate Mathieu Kassovitz and musician Jarvis Cocker.

The inaugural British newcomer nod, which can go to a writer, producer or director, went to screenwriter Jack Thorne for “The Scouting Book for Boys,” with a special mention to J. Blakeson, writer and director of “The Disappearance of Alice Creed.”

The Sutherland Award for the most original and imaginative first feature screening in the fest was nabbed by “Ajami,” by helmers Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani. Pic is Israel’s hope for a nomination in Oscar’s foreign-language film category.

The Grierson Award for documentary went to Yoav Shamir for “Defamation,” his examination of anti-Semitism.

During the gala, the British Film Institute bestowed fellowships, its highest honor, on veteran Blighty thesp John Hurt and Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cisse for career achievement. 

Hurt’s “44 Inch Chest” and “The Limits of Control” played at the 16-day fest while Cisse’s “Tell Me Who You Are” had its U.K. premiere.

The 16-day fest closes today with the world premiere of “Nowhere Boy,” Sam Taylor-Wood’s film about the young John Lennon.

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