British Independent Film Awards: Moon Mystery Tops + Andrzej Wajda Passion & Death Tale Is FIPRESCI Winner

Moon Sam Rockwell: British Independent Film Awards Best Picture winnerMoon with Sam Rockwell. This year's British Independent Film Awards Best Picture winner, Duncan Jones' Moon has elements in common with, among other sci-fi/mystery thrillers, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Basil Dearden's The Man Who Haunted Himself. Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) and supercomputer GERTY (which sounds kinda like Kevin Spacey) are all alone on the moon when Bell suffers an accident as the result of a hallucination. After regaining consciousness, he discovers that reality isn't quite what it seems to be. Nominee Duncan Jones lost out to – first female Best Director winner – Andrea Arnold for Fish Tank.

'Moon' tops British Independent Film Awards

Duncan Jones' sci-fi thriller Moon – not to be confused with New Moon, and which was made for $5 million, or about 1/zillionth of the cost of Star Trek, 2012, or Avatar – won Best Picture and Best Debut Director (Douglas Hickox Award) honors at the 2009 British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), held on Dec. 6 at The Brewery in West London.

Written by Nathan Parker from Jones' original story (with shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey), Moon tells the story of a man (Sam Rockwell) living with a computer – that's GERTY – at a manufacturing base on the moon, where one day he wakes up to discover that he isn't as alone as he thought. Worse yet, things have never actually been as he thought they were.

Jones, by the way, used to go by the moniker Zowie Bowie. Why the…? Simple: He's David Bowie's son.

Best Director Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold became the first woman in the British Independent Film Awards' 12-year history to take home the Best Director award, winning for the family drama Fish Tank, which also earned Katie Jarvis the Best Newcomer award.

Arnold was one of three nominated women directors this year: The other two were Lone Scherfig for An Education and Jane Campion for Bright Star, which ended up winning only one award, for cinematographer Greig Fraser in the generic Best Technical Achievement category.

'Let the Right One In' beats 'The Hurt Locker'

The British Independent Film Awards' Best Foreign Film was Tomas Alfredson's 2008 Swedish psychological drama/horror Let the Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in, about a teen vampire (Lina Leandersson) who develops a relationship with a bullied schoolkid (Kåre Hedebrant).

Unlike the Twilight movies featuring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Alfredson's teen bloodsucker flick was made for adults. A year ago, Let the Right One In won a number of critics awards in the U.S.

As an aside, among the British Independent Film Awards' foreign-film losers was Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker, winner of this year's Best Picture and Best Ensemble Gotham Awards.

Carey Mulligan & Tom Hardy top acting categories

Courtesy of the British Independent Film Awards, National Board of Review pick Carey Mulligan had her second Best Actress win this awards season – which has just begun. Had Mulligan been eligible for the Gotham Awards, she would have given The Maid star Catalina Saavedra a run for her Chilean pesos.

In case you're wondering: The Gotham Awards are supposed to honor American independent films; that's why Mulligan's British-made An Education wasn't eligible. Chile, however, is in South America, which makes its film productions “American” – apparently. Except, that is, when it comes to the Spirit Awards, which are also supposed to honor American independent films, thus having Sebastián Silva's socially conscious The Maid listed only in their Best Foreign Film category.

Now, back to the British Independent Film Awards: Tom Hardy was chosen Best Actor for having transformed himself into the violently disturbed real-life inmate Michael Gordon Peterson a.k.a. “Charles Bronson” in Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson.

The Best Supporting Actor was John Henshaw for Ken Loach's fantasy Looking for Eric, while Anne-Marie Duff was the Best Supporting Actress for Sam Taylor Wood's (very young) John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy.

Besides, Taylor Wood collected the Best Short Film award for Love You More, featuring Harry Treadaway and Andrea Riseborough.

Among the losers in this particular category was Sidney Turtlebaum, one of the semifinalists for the Best Live Action Short Film Academy Award. (See further below.)

More British Independent Film Award winners

The Best Screenplay award went to Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche for the political comedy In the Loop, directed by Iannucci.

The Best Documentary was Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson's Mugabe and the White African, about a white Zimbabwean farmer who challenged president Robert Mugabe's racist regime. The film is one of the semifinalists for the 2010 Academy Awards.

Paul King's Bunny and the Bull, in which a young man (Edward Hogg) takes a memento-induced trip throughout Europe, won the Best Achievement in Production award, while Ben Wheatley's Down Terrace, a dramatic comedy about a highly dysfunctional family, took home the Raindance Award given to “filmmakers working against the odds.”

And finally, two-time Best Actor Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot, 1989; There Will Be Blood, 2007) was given the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution to British Film, while two-time Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Michael Caine (Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986; The Cider House Rules, 1999) received the Variety Award and Daily Mail entertainment writer Baz Bamigboye the Special Jury Prize.

Odds of Best Picture Oscar match?

Last year, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner at the British Independent Film Awards. Does that mean Moon has a chance at Oscar gold?

Well, Moon could theoretically land a Best Picture nomination, but not because of its victory on the eastern side of the Atlantic. After all, British Independent Film Award winners – unfortunately, if I may add – are often ignored on the American side; Slumdog Millionaire was the worldwide sleeper-blockbuster aberration that proves the rule.

In fact, thus far it's the only Best Picture British Independent Film Award winner to have received a matching Best Picture Academy Award nomination.

But then again, with ten Best Picture nominees this year … who knows?

Sweet Rush Krystyna Janda Pawel Szajda: Love + death in Andrzej Wajda FIPRESCI winnerSweet Rush / Tatarak with Krystyna Janda and Pawel Szajda. Veteran filmmaker Andrzej Wajda mixes two different threads in Sweet Rush: one features veteran actress Krystyna Janda (Man of Marble, Mephisto) explaining how she dealt with the death of her husband, cinematographer Edward Klosinski (The Maids of Wilko, Three Colors: White); the other, set after World War II, stars Janda as a grieving wife and mother – her sons had been killed during the war – who, unaware that she is terminally ill, becomes involved in a passionate romance with a handsome youth (Pawel Szajda). Sweet Rush is the 2009 European Film Awards' Prix FIPRESCI winner.

Passion & death: Andrzej Wajda's unusual 'Sweet Rush' wins the European Film Awards' FIPRESCI Prize

In other awards season news, the European Film Academy, EFA Productions, and the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) have announced that the 2009 Prix FIPRESCI goes to 83-year-old Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda for Sweet Rush / Tatarak.

Based on a short story by Hungarian writer/journalist Sándor Márai (1900–1989), Sweet Rush – which has a few elements in common with Tod Williams' The Door in the Floor – chronicles the love affair between a neglected and terminally ill doctor's wife (Man of Marble and Mephisto veteran Krystyna Janda), who also happens to be the mother of two sons killed in World War II, and a man half her age (U.S.-born actor Pawel Szajda).

Shooting was interrupted following the death of Janda's husband, Wajda's frequent cinematographer Edward Klosinski. When production resumed, Wajda rearranged the narrative to focus on the filmmaking process itself, with Janda providing a present-day, first-person monologue at the beginning and at the end of the tale.

'Young spirit'

Sweet Rush shared with Gigante the Alfred Bauer Award at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. Curiously, Wajda's unusual drama is not Poland's submission for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award – the Polish nominating committee selected instead Borys Lankosz's Reverse.

Regarding Sweet Rush, FIPRESCI's General Secretary Klaus Eder explained that the director of Generation, Kanal, and Ashes and Diamonds has created “not at all what you would call a later work – [Sweet Rush] is, on the contrary, the film of a young spirit, with which Wajda in a risky and courageous way undertakes to open new and very personal perspectives for the European authors' cinema of today.”

According to the European Film Academy's press release, Andrzej Wajda will be present at the 2009 European Film Awards ceremony on Dec. 12 in Bochum, Germany, to accept his award.

Sidney Turtlebaum Derek Jacobi Rupert Evans. Gay Jewish con man + Shiva mournersSidney Turtlebaum with Derek Jacobi and Rupert Evans. One of the ten semifinalists for the 2010 Best Live Action Short Film Oscar is Tristram Shapeero's comedy-drama Sidney Turtlebaum, in which the title character, an elderly gay Jewish con man (Derek Jacobi), has the habit of gatecrashing Shiva houses of mourning so he can relieve the grieving parties of at least some of their earthly possessions. Better known as a stage actor, Jacobi has been featured in about 50 films in the last 45 years, among them Stuart Burge's Othello (1965), as Cassio; Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996), as Claudius; and Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000), as Gracchus.

Best Live Action Short Film Oscar semifinalists

More awards season news: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the 10 semifinalists – out of a pool of 71 eligible entries – for the 2010 Academy Awards' Best Live Action Short Film category.

They are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • The Door, Juanita Wilson, director, and James Flynn, producer.
  • The Ground Beneath, Rene Hernandez, director, and Kristina Ceyton, producer.
  • Hotel, Tim Conrad, director-producer.
  • Instead of Abracadabra, Patrik Eklund, director, and Mathias Fjellstrom, producer.
  • Kavi, Gregg Helvey, director-producer.
  • Miracle Fish, Luke Doolan, director, and Drew Bailey, producer.
  • The New Tenants, Joachim Back, director, and Tivi Magnusson, producer.
  • The Response, Adam Rodgers, director, and Sig Libowitz, producer.
  • Short Term 12, Destin Daniel Cretton, director-producer, and Michelle Steffes, producer.
  • Sidney Turtlebaum, Tristram Shapeero, director, and Daniel Jewel, producer.

Among the talent featured in these shorts are Vincent D'Onofrio, Kate Mulgrew, Kevin Corrigan, Rupert Evans, and Derek Jacobi.

Eclectic topics

Below are four semifinalists and their highly eclectic topics.

  • The Response is a courtroom drama based on actual transcripts from the Guantanamo military tribunals.
  • Sidney Turtlebaum is a comedy about a 70-something gay con man with the quirky habit of gatecrashing into Shiva houses of mourning.
  • Miracle Fish is a mystery in which an 8-year-old boy discovers that his wish has come true – everyone in the world has disappeared.
  • Kavi is a socially conscious drama about an Indian boy who attempts to escape from the brick kiln where he is forced to perform what amounts to slave labor.

Next, the Academy's Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will select three to five nominees from the 10 titles on the shortlist. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco in January 2010.

The 2010 Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The 2010 Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 7, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.

Best Animated Feature Golden Globe contenders

And finally: fifteen releases are up for consideration in the 2010 Golden Globes' Best Animated Feature category, Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Philip Berk has announced.

The five eventual nominees – instead of three, as in previous years – will be selected from the following group:

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
Battle for Terra.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
A Christmas Carol.
Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
Mary and Max.
The Missing Lynx.
Monsters vs. Aliens.
Planet 51.
The Princess and the Frog.

Twenty animated films have been submitted for the 2010 Academy Awards. Those missing from the Golden Globes' list are: Astro Boy, The Dolphin - Story of a Dreamer, The Secret of Kells, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, and A Town Called Panic.

2010 Golden Globes data

Here's some more Golden Globes 2010 data: 173 live-action features (105 dramas and 68 comedies or musicals), 133 television series (79 dramas and 54 comedies), 33 miniseries and telefilms, and a record 69 foreign-language films have qualified for 2010 Golden Globes.

Additionally, a record 103 songs are eligible for the Best Original Song in a Motion Picture category.

The 2010 Golden Globe nominations will be announced at 5:00 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Hosted by Ricky Gervais, the 2010 Golden Globes ceremony will be held on Sunday, Jan. 17, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.


British Independent Film Awards website.

Image of Sam Rockwell in the British Independent Film Awards' winner Moon: Sony Pictures Classics.

Krystyna Janda and Pawel Szajda Sweet Rush / Tatarak image: Akson Studio.

Rupert Evans and Derek Jacobi Sidney Turtlebaum image: Third Man Films.

“British Independent Film Awards: Moon Mystery Tops + Andrzej Wajda Passion & Death Tale Is FIPRESCI Winner” last updated in April 2018.

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10 Comments to British Independent Film Awards: Moon Mystery Tops + Andrzej Wajda Passion & Death Tale Is FIPRESCI Winner

  1. spinpup

    Congrat's on all the films that made it to the finals. And kudo's to all the short listed finalist's who didn't.
    I am bummed The Response didn't make it, but it's pretty cool how far it went. Considering it's a 'political' hotbed of a story.

  2. Margaret

    Saw The Response and thought it was incredibly powerful and moving; echoes of Kafka's The Trial; very timely. Hope it wins.

  3. m. baker

    Thank you for listing the “10” short films in running for 2010 oscars …. I can count only 9

  4. Michael

    I hope Response wins as well

  5. Tyler

    The only one of these films that I've seen is Kavi. I'm a big fan of it. So much so, in fact, that I recently interviewed the director, Gregg Helvey. His surprisingly down-to-earth views on what he hopes to accomplish with the film were very refreshing. I hope his film wins.

  6. Amanda

    I have only seen Sidney Turtlebaum which I thought it was pretty incredible and a well deserved winner of LA Shortfest. It is about a gay Jewish man in his seventies that gatecrashes funerals (shivas) and pickpockets the mourners. It has a bit of everything, drama, humour, but what I liked most about it was the performance of the lead (Derek Jacobi) who played Sidney who was nothing but senstational! Definatly worth seeing and a big contender I think!

  7. Angie

    I hope Kavi wins!

  8. Spinpup

    Great films. I hope The Response wins.

  9. jane neaves

    that is really great news lets hope that the
    response wins

  10. Jackie James

    It's incredible that Astro Boy was not included in the list, when abysmal tripe like Planet 51, the latest Ice Age installment and the Chipmunks got a nod. :0 Astro has much more to commend it when it comes to animation, story, voice acting, musical score…one wonders by what criteria the nominees were chosen. Box office? But Coraline underperformed and Fox is a box-office flop. Really, there is no excuse. The Globes have lost their luster.