The London Film Festival awards Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier
The British event makes a noise by awarding an unexpected film from a female director
Let us be honest. Nobody was on tenterhooks waiting to hear what films were to triumph at the BFI London Film Festival. As we noted last week, that event is perilously short of premieres and, as a result, almost everything has already been in competition somewhere else. Who remembers that Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan won best picture last year? The film had already received a prize at Cannes and was on its way to an Oscar nomination. It seems more likely that this year’s winner will stick in the brain. Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier played to good reviews at the Locarno Film Festival, but lost the Golden Leopard to Hong Sang-soo’s Right Now, Wrong Then. By awarding top prize to this latest effusion of the Greek Weird Wave — which also gave us Yorgos Lanthimos’s currently triumphant The Lobster — the LFF has managed to attract some attention to itself. Best documentary also went to a film by a female director. Jennifer Peedom’s Sherpa, a story of Everest, has been picking up great word since premiering in Australia over the summer.
We don’t know if the jury, headed by Pawel Pawlikowski, was consciously trying to assert an identity, but, one way or another, the decision has helped promote the festival and publicise a very interesting film. “Chevalier is a study of male antagonism seen through the eyes of a brave and original filmmaker,” Pawel Pawlikowski said. “Chevalier is a study of male antagonism seen through the eyes of a brave and original filmmaker. With great formal rigour and irresistible wit, Athina Rachel Tsangari has managed to make a film that is both a hilarious comedy and a deeply disturbing statement on the condition of western humanity”. The film, from the director of the terrific Attenberg, studies six wealthy men on a boat in the Aegean as they compete to seem the most pathetically male. By all accounts the picture crackles with all the oddness we expect from this Greek movement.
Best first feature went to Robert Eggers’s indecently tantalising The Witch. Premiered nearly a year ago at Sundance, the film will not be with us until bloody March. We could all be dead by then.
BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS
Chevalier – Athina Rachel Tsangari wins Best Film Award
The Witch – Robert Eggers, wins Sutherland Award (Best First Feature)
Sherpa – Jennifer Peedom, wins Grierson Award (Best Documentary)
An Old Dog’s Diary – Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel, wins Best Short Film Award
Cate Blanchett received the BFI Fellowship, presented by Ian McKellen
With great formal rigour and irresistible wit, Athina Rachel Tsangari has managed to make a film that is both a hilarious comedy and a deeply disturbing statement on the condition of western humanity”.