‘London’ tops Dinard

'Pierrepoint' also lauded

DINARD, France — The 17th British Film Festival came to a close Sunday in the resort town of Dinard, France, with “London to Brighton” taking the top jury prize, the Golden Hitchcock.

Directed by Paul Andrew Williams, “London to Brighton” explores the relationship between a 12-year-old runaway and a prostitute.

Adrian Shergold’s “Pierrepoint,” starring Timothy Spall as real-life British hangman Albert Pierrepoint took the silver Hitchcock award, voted by local cinephiles, as well as the Kodak Prize for cinematography. But jurors said they opted to award the top prize to “London to Brighton” in consideration of the indie film’s small budget.

” ‘London to Brighton’ was made with virtually no money, no known actors, and will struggle to reach an audience,” British jury member Stephen Mangan said. “But we obviously did not select it as a charity case, because it is a very powerful film.”

The Grand Marnier award for screenplay went to Noel Clarke, who scripted Menhaj Huda’s “Kidulthood.”

Besides serving as a horrific yet accurate reflection of violent incidents in British high schools taken from the headlines, juror Charles Dance said “Kidulthood’s” dialogue captured the lingua franca of certain British youth.

A producers meeting was held as a sideline event, during which the status of British and French co-productions was discussed.

According to reps from France’s Centre National de la Cinematographie, there were 18 French and British co-productions made from April 2005 through March 2006. New government incentives in France and in Britain that are just now going into effect should further encourage co-prods, British Council spokeswoman Tina McFarling said.

New tax-break rules in Britain, for example, allow producers, instead of what McFarling called financial “middlemen,” to deduct film costs, while making it easier for internationally produced films to benefit from British tax deductions and other government incentives. A film such as “The Constant Gardener,” McFarling said, can take advantage of government-backed financial incentives such as tax breaks, even though the film’s director, Fernando Meirelles, was not British.

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