- Nicole Kassell’s U.S.-made child molester movie The Woodsman was the London Film Festival’s Satyajit Ray Award winner. Kevin Bacon stars.
- Other London Film Festival winners include Jonathan Caouette’s American documentary Tarnation, and Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern’s Belgian black comedy Aaltra.
London Film Festival’s Satyajit Ray Award goes to U.S.-made child molester movie The Woodsman
This year’s Los Angeles-based AFI FEST hasn’t been the only international film festival to reward work tackling difficult topics. Starring Kevin Bacon as a post-prison-sentence child molester, Nicole Kassell’s U.S.-made big-screen version of Steven Fechter’s play The Woodsman has been named the winner of the London Film Festival’s Satyajit Ray Award for Best First Feature that “reflects the artistry, compassion and humanity” of the late Indian director of Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu.
The Woodsman features Bacon as a convicted pedophile trying to rebuild his life in the Philadelphia area after spending 12 years in jail. Locals, however, are either incapable or unwilling to forgive and forget his past deeds. Both Kassell and Fechter collaborated on the screenplay.
Besides Kevin Bacon, The Woodsman also features Bacon’s off-screen wife Kyra Sedgwick, Benjamin Bratt, David Alan Grier, Michael Shannon, Mos Def, Carlos Leon, and Kevin Rice.
More London Film Festival awards
Another U.S. production, Jonathan Caouette’s autobiographical documentary Tarnation, won the Sutherland Trophy, “awarded to the director of the most original and imaginative first feature.” Tarnation offers a portrait of the filmmaker’s difficult relationship with his mentally ill mother.
Writer-director Amma Asante was given the UK Film Talent Award for her debut feature A Way of Life, the story of a teenage single mother involved in an ethnic feud with a Turkish neighbor.
The FIPRESCI International Critics Award went to actors-writers-directors Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern’s Aaltra, a Belgian black comedy about two (recently) handicapped mortal enemies (Delépine and de Kervern).
And finally, the TCM Classic Shorts Award went to Harry Wootliff’s Nits.
The 2004 London Film Festival ran Oct. 20–Nov. 4.
“London Film Festival Winners” notes
Kevin Bacon movies
 The Woodsman actor Kevin Bacon has been seen in feature films for a quarter of a century, having first landed small roles in John Landis’ Animal House (1978) and Alan J. Pakula’s Starting Over (1979).
In 1982, Bacon had a key role in Barry Levinson’s critically acclaimed Diner, which was followed two years later by a starring one in Herbert Ross’ box office hit Footloose.
Most of Kevin Bacon’s movies from then on haven’t been all that successful, though the actor has kept busy, oftentimes in supporting parts.
Among his most important big-screen releases of the last two decades are the following:
- Joel Schumacher’s horror thriller Flatliners (1990), starring Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland.
- Oliver Stone’s controversial political thriller JFK (1991), starring Kevin Costner.
- Curtis Hanson’s adventure drama The River Wild (1994), terrorizing Meryl Streep and David Strathairn.
- Ron Howard’s Best Picture Academy Award nominee Apollo 13 (1995), co-starring Tom Hanks.
- Clint Eastwood’s Best Picture Oscar nominee Mystic River (2003), starring Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, and, like The Woodsman, dealing with the issue of child sexual abuse.
“London Festival” endnotes
London Film Festival website.
Kevin Bacon The Woodsman movie image: Newmarket Films.
“Child Molester Drama Wins Top London Festival Award” last updated in September 2021.