Director Penny Woolcock has been awarded the prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film for her film One Mile Away, a documentary following two members of rival Birmingham gangs as they attempt to broker a peace agreement.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival made the announcement this afternoon at an awards ceremony at Filmhouse. It is the first time a documentary has won the award, after documentaries were included in competition this year.
The award's jury, headed by actor Jim Broadbent, with Japanese actress and producer Kiki Sugino and the founder and director of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Tiina Lokk, wrote: “One Mile Away by Penny Woolcock is a brave and honest film tackling a huge problem with sensitivity and skill, not only charting the efforts to reconcile a community but also showing the great wealth of creativity that is part of that struggle. We are delighted to be able to recognise such a singular achievement.”
One Mile Away had its world premiere at the festival.
Penny Woolcock said: "Winning the Michael Powell award is a tremendous boost for us to help get the film and its message out to where it needs to be in our inner cities."
The Award for Best Film in the International Feature Competition, supported by Innis & Gunn, was won by Here, Then, which also had its World Premiere at EIFF.
Director Mao Mao was present to pick up the award. The Jury, led by actor Elliott Gould, with independent producer Julietta Sichel and filmmaker Lav Diaz, said it was unanimous in its decision but gave a Special Mention to Papirosen by Gastón Solnicki, "a real paradigm for why cinema remains relevant". It said of Papirosen: "There is beauty, pain and urgency in this film. For humanity to survive, the world must not forget. This film tells us that the greatest struggle of man is the struggle for the truth.
Andrea Riseborough and Bríd Brennan jointly won Awards for Best Performance in a British Feature Film for their performances in James Marsh’s Shadow Dancer, which had its UK Premiere last night. The performance awards were voted for by the Michael Powell Jury.
Short film awards
In the shorts category, documentary Dinosaur Eggs in the Living Room by Rafael Urban (Brazil) won Best Film in the International Short Film Competition. The Jury Citation described it as: “a gripping story about love, fidelity, ageing and loss - themes which are generally so difficult to honour within the constriction of short film.”
The Jury also commended two other films: Carbon directed by Craig Webster (USA) and The Waves directed by Miguel Fonseca (Portugal).
Picking up two awards was director Will Anderson for his film The Making of Longbird for which he won both Best Film in the British Short Film Competition and The McLaren Award for New British Animation, which is voted for by audiences.
The Jury praised The Making of Longbird as a “curious and wonderfully metaphysical film that questions the search for answers to the creative process.” The Jury also gave a special acting commendation to Tom Phillips in Fun Times by Joe Carter.
The Student Critics Jury Award was awarded to Jang Kun-jae’s Sleepless Night. The Jury citation read: "Our choice is from a young filmmaker with a refined talent. He has created a simple yet compelling story of modern romance in which the unremarkable becomes remarkable."