Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless” has won the award for best film at the BFI London Film Festival, the second time that the Russian director has claimed the honor. The film, about a boy who vanishes while his parents undergo an acrimonious divorce, is Russia’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar race.
The festival jury, headed by director Andrea Arnold, called “Loveless” a “very poetic and beautiful film, dark and told with a fierce passion. Although the film concentrated on the intimate story of one family in Russia, it felt like a universal tragedy, one that we recognized as one of the world¹s great sadnesses. The filmmaker elevated the personal to a social and political statement.
“Loveless” screened in Cannes, and will be Zvyagintsev’s third film to be submitted as Russia’s official Oscar contender, after “The Return” and “Leviathan.” The latter won the London Film Festival’s award for best film in 2014.
At a ceremony Saturday evening in London hosted by James Nesbitt, the jury also commended Annemarie Jacir’s family drama “Wajib,” which also won a prize at Locarno. The film, the Palestinian entry in the foreign-language Oscar category, centers on the estrangement between a father and son.
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The Sutherland Award recognizing the director of the most original and imaginative first feature in the festival, went to John Trengove, whose film “The Wound” was described by the prize jury as a “dynamic and inimitable coming-of-age story that takes a heartbreaking look at masculinity and sexuality.” A special nod was also given to Carla Simon’s “Summer 1993.” The two films are the Oscar submissions from South Africa and Spain, respectively.
Other festival award-winners are Lucy Cohen’s “The Kingdom of Us” (U.K.) for best documentary, and Patrick Bresnan’s “Rabbit Hunt” (U.S.) for best short film. The prestigious BFI Fellowship was awarded to British director Paul Greengrass, whose film “Captain Phillips” opened the London Film Festival in 2013.