Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Certain Women’ Triumphs at London Film Festival

Kelly Reichardt’s “Certain Women,” a study of the lives of three very different women in Montana, won best film at the 60th BFI London Film Festival Saturday.

“In a vibrant year for cinema it was the masterful mise en scène and quiet modesty of this film that determined our choice for best film,” the jury said. “A humane and poignant story that calibrates with startling vulnerability and delicate understatement the isolation, frustrations and loneliness of lives unlived in a quiet corner of rural America.”

The jury president was Athina Rachel Tsangari, whose film “Chevalier” won the LFF best film prize in 2015. The other jurors were British screenwriter Abi Morgan; Anthony Chen, the Singaporean writer, director, producer; British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw; and Romanian director and screenwriter Radu Jude.

The Sutherland Award for the best first feature went to Julia Ducournau for “Raw,” about a young woman’s insatiable appetite for flesh in a playful coming-of-age horror tale. The winner was announced by the jury president Sarah Gavron, director of “Suffragette.”

Gavron said: “It is a film that shocked and surprised us in equal measure. We admired the way the director did something completely unexpected with the genre. We enjoyed the outrageousness of the storytelling, and the glee with which events unfolded. We loved the eerie originality of the setting, the dark, dark humor, the great score and the truly distinctive visual language. And the bold charismatic acting of the women at the center of a film that is both unique and unsettling, and will quite literally make some swoon.”

Popular on Variety

The jury also gave a special commendation to Uda Benyamina’s “Divines” for its standout female performance from Oulaya Amamra and for its great energy and veracity.

Gavron’s fellow jurors were novelist and screenwriter David Nicholls; director and producer George Amponsah; chief U.K. film critic for Variety Guy Lodge; British actor Matthew Macfadyen; and Nira Park, the BAFTA-nominated British producer of “Spaced.”

The Grierson Award for the best documentary went to “Starless Dreams,” a portrait of juvenile delinquent women at the extreme margins of Iranian society, by veteran documentarian Mehrdad Oskouei.

Jury president Louise Osmond commented: “’Starless Dreams’ is the story of young women in a juvenile detention center in Iran. By that description you’d imagine a dark film exploring a bleak world of broken young lives. This film was the very opposite of that. It took us into a world none of us knew anything about — the street kids, thieves and children of crack addicts of Iran — and showed us a place full of humor, life and spirit.

“Beautifully paced with great characterization and a very strong sense of place, director Mehrdad Oskouei captured the fears and friendships of these teenagers with such humanity. The profoundly moving irony of the film is that it was in this detention center, with others like them, that these girls finally found a sense of family and home; you feared for them most the day they were released back into their family’s care. It’s a film that stays with you for a very long time.”

The awards ceremony was hosted by Michael Sheen; guests included Alicia Vikander, Amma Asante, Anna Friel, David Tennant, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kerry Fox, Lily James, Matthew Macfadyen and Michael Fassbender, who presented the BFI Fellowship to this year’s recipient Steve McQueen.

More Film

  • Jamie Foxx - Excellence in the

    Jamie Foxx Honored by Leonardo DiCaprio at American Black Film Festival Honors

    Leonardo DiCaprio and Morgan Freeman made surprise appearances at the American Black Film Festival Honors ceremony on Sunday night. The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor presented Jamie Foxx with the excellence in the arts award while Freeman announced the movie of the year, which went to “Just Mercy.” Hosted by comedian Deon Cole, [...]

  • Pilar Palomero

    Pilar Palomero Talks About 'Las Niñas,' Screening a Berlin's Generation Kplus

    A Generation Kplus entry, “Las niñas” (Schoolgirls) is a coming-of-age story and a generational portrait of Spanish women who would now be in their forties. This tale of sexual awakening takes place in a Catholic education center at the beginnings of the 90’s when Spain’s democracy was 15 years old. Spain had experienced galloping modernity; [...]

  • 'My Little Sister' Review: Hoss, Eidinger

    'My Little Sister': Film Review

    When it comes to stories of adult siblings, cinema tends to remain overwhelmingly gender-divided. Great films about brotherly love and sisterly strife (or, of course, vice versa) are plentiful, but tender brother-sister studies are a rarer breed. “My Little Sister,” then, is a welcome, warm-hearted addition to the ranks of “You Can Count on Me,” [...]

  • Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE

    'Sonic the Hedgehog' Release Delayed in China Due to Coronavirus

    Paramount has pushed back the China release of “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which was originally set to debut in the country on Feb. 28, due to concerns over the growing coronavirus epidemic.. Cinemas in China are indefinitely closed due to the crisis. The studio made the announcement Monday, saying, “Due to the current coronavirus situation, the China [...]

  • BFFS! Best Friends Forever Stranded!

    'Winnipeg,' 'BFFS!' and 'Sex Symbols' Among La Liga Animated Finalists

    “Winnipeg, Seeds of Hope,” “BFFS! Best Friends Forever Stranded!” and “Sex Symbols” are among five new finalists selected to participate in La Liga, the animation umbrella created to promote the Ibero-American animation sector worldwide between Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival. The eventual winning project will be chosen at the upcoming edition [...]

  • Dee Dee Meyers

    Dee Dee Myers Stepping Down as Warner Bros. Communications Chief (EXCLUSIVE)

    Dee Dee Myers is stepping down as executive vice president of worldwide corporate communications and public affairs for Warner Bros., Variety has learned. Her decision ends a five-year run at the studio for Myers, who joined the company after a distinguished career that included a stint as White House press secretary during President Bill Clinton’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content