Black Comedies Win Top Awards at Edinburgh Film Festival

Submitted by edg on Sat, 26 Jun '10 10.05pm

Nick Whitfield's darkly, fanciful comedy Skeletons, about a couple of exorcists, has won the coveted Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Meanwhile, the deathly comedy Get Low, which stars Robert Duvall, who arranges his own funeral before dying, and Bill Murray as the funeral director, won the 2010 Standard Life Audience Award.

"Skeletons best exemplifies the spirit of Michael Powell in its original vision and dark humour," said the Michael Powell Award jury. The five-strong Jury, which was led by actor Sir Patrick Stewart and included Mike Hodges, film curator Laurence Kardish, director Rafi Pitts, and actress Britt Ekland, also singled a second of the eleven films in competition. A Special Mention was given to Edward and Rory McHenry for their animated revision of modern British history Jackboots on Whitehall (which Dylan blogged about).

The Edinburgh International Film Festival announced all the winners in the six competition categories for feature films at an Awards Ceremony prior to the Closing Gala of the world premiere of Third Star.

The audience award announcement was held back until the award ceremony earlier tonight at Cineworld. Awards were presented by EIFF Artistic Director Hannah McGill and Patrons Tilda Swinton and Seamus McGarvey.

Among the other awards the SPPG Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film went to David Thewlis for his turn as Jim McCann in Bernard Rose's Mr Nice, a comedy based on the life of drug smuggler Howard Marks. The Jury described his performance as "energetic and electrifying."

“This is a thrill and totally unexpected," said David Thewlis, "and made all the more special by being honoured by one of my favourite cities in the world.”

In the other categories, the Best International Feature Award went to the highly topical Ryan Piers Williams's The Dry Land, a drama about a Iraq veteran suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome. America Ferrera was executive producer and played the wife of the veteran, a role that is far from from her role in the hit television comedy series Ugly Betty.

The Best International Feature Award was deliberated by a Jury of three comedian/director Ben Miller, actor Jason Isaacs and producer Lynda Myles.

"We thought this delicate and emotional film took a subject that could have been predictable and explored it with a refreshing subtlety of characterisation, with universally beautiful performances and with a respect for the audience’s intelligence that made it not only a superbly told, gripping and relevant story, but a natural and unanimous winner."

The jury added: "We’d also like to commend two other films that gave us an enormous amount of pleasure locked, as we were, in dark rooms all day during the longest unbroken stretch of Edinburgh sunshine on record: For transporting us with a magnificent aesthetic flair, for its hypnotic cast and for creating an entirely believable world of monstrously amoral hit men that, despite ourselves, we all wanted to hang out with, we commend the epic landscape of Snowman's Land. And for giving us 2 hours of unbridled snorting laughter with a bucket-load of soppily embarrassing feelgood tears thrown in for good measure, we commend the unalloyed good time that is Barry Munday.”

Gareth Edwards won the Moët New Directors Award for Monsters. The Jury of three said, "we give the award, which acknowledges both ability and potential, to Monsters and its maker Gareth Edwards, whose extraordinary talents we confidently expect to see a great deal more of in the years to come.”

The directors gave special mentions to Nothing Personal, Son of Babylon and much talked about Winter's Bone.

The Best Feature Documentary Award went to The Oath, directed by Laura Poitras. The Documentary Jury said the award was "in recognition of the complexity and subtlety of its storytelling; the brilliance of its conception and execution; and the presence of an authorial voice that is strong without being didactic."

Special mention was given to embedded documentarians Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington for Afghanistan-set Restrepo, "for its visceral intensity and unflinching honesty".

All feature film winners also received a personalised magnum of Moët champagne.

Short film Awards

The EIFF 2010 Short Film Awards, which were presented at a ceremony on Tuesday evening in Edinburgh, went to:

  • UK Film Council Award For Best British Short Film: Baby, directed by Daniel Mulloy
  • Best International Short Film Award sponsored by Steedman & Company: Rita, directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza
  • Scottish Short Documentary Award supported by Baillie Gifford: Maria's Way, directed by Anne Milne
  • McLaren Award for Best New British Animation in partnership with BBC Film Network: Stanley Pickle, directed by Victoria Mather
  • Short Film Nominee Edinburgh, for the European Film Awards 2010: Maria's Way, directed by Anne Milne

The Edinburgh International Film Festival ends tomorrow