There were numerous surprises at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards (Bifa) ceremony, which was held yesterday, Nov. 29, in West London.
Out of its six nominations, the unofficial favorite, Stephen Frears' The Queen, about the battle of wills between Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) and Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) following Princess Diana's death, won only one award – Best Screenplay for Peter Morgan, reprising his Venice Festival win. (Additionally, Helen Mirren was given the Variety UK Personality of the Year Award.)
Instead, the surprise Best Independent British Film winner was This Is England, Shane Meadows' semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about a young man's indoctrination into the world of skinhead gangs in the England of the 1980s. The film also won the Best Promising Newcomer (On-Screen) Award for 12-year-old Thomas Turgoose as the pre-teen-turned-skin. Earlier this fall, This Is England won the Special Jury Prize at the 1st RomeFilmFest.
Beating the once unbeatable Helen Mirren, stage actress Kate Dickie took the Best Actress award for her feature-film debut as a Glasgow surveillance camera operator pursuing an ex-con in Andrea Arnold's British-Danish psychological thriller Red Road. (By the way, Arnold's film won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival earlier this year.)
In the Best Actor category, Dickie's co-star Tony Curran beat the other unbeatable acting nominee, Peter O'Toole, who plays an old and frail but ever-horny actor in Roger Michell's Venus. (O'Toole was deemed unbeatable less because of his performance – in this writer's view a very minor one – than because of his nearly half-century film career.)
Best Independent Foreign Film was Michael Haneke's first-rate Caché / Hidden, starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil as a bourgeois Parisian couple whose complacent lives are dramatically altered by an event in the far-away past. (Among the losers was Pedro Almodóvar's equally first-rate Volver.)
Among the other winners were veteran Leslie Phillips, 82, chosen Best Supporting Actor/Actress for hamming it up as O'Toole's actor buddy in Venus; Best Director Kevin Macdonald for The Last King of Scotland, a fictitious tale about the relationship between a Scottish doctor and the deranged Uganda leader Idi Amin (nominee Forest Whitaker); and, curiously, Best Documentary The Road to Guantanamo. Somehow, Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross' docudrama has been fooling some into believing it is an actual depiction of the fate of three Englishmen of Pakistani ancestry at the American Gulag.
The UK Film Council is Bifa's biggest funder.
King and Queen rule the 2006 British Independent Film Awards nominations, which were announced on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
I couldn't resist the pun, even though it's not only bad but also inaccurate. In actuality, Shane Meadows' This Is England, winner of the Special Jury Prize at this year's RomeFilmFest, garnered 7 nods – one more than either Kevin Macdonald's The Last King of Scotland or Stephen Frears' The Queen. All three films received Best Picture nominations.
All three directors were also nominated, along with veteran Ken Loach for Cannes Film Festival winner The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Michael Caton Jones for Shooting Dogs. Loach's war drama also garnered a Best Film nod, but the fifth slot went to Andrea Arnold's mystery thriller Red Road.
In the acting categories, one can find the renowned (and expected) – Helen Mirren in The Queen, Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland, Peter O'Toole in Venus – next to lesser-known names, including Frances de la Tour in The History Boys, and both Tony Curran and Kate Dickie in Red Road. Veterans Vanessa Redgrave and Leslie Phillips received supporting nods for Venus.
Not surprisingly, Peter Morgan garnered two Best Screenplay nominations – for The Last King of Scotland (with Jeremy Brock) and The Queen.
Surprisingly, Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross' docudrama The Road to Guantanamo received a Best Documentary nod – apparently it paid off to omit the film's screenwriting credit (implying that what is shown on screen were mere reenactments of factual events).
Director-screenwriter Jeremy Brock's Driving Lessons – including cast members Julie Walters, Rupert Grint, and Laura Linney – were ignored by the BIFA. And Helen Mirren aside, so were all cast members of The Queen.
The 9th British Independent Film Award nominees were announced on Oct. 25, 2006.
The 9th British Independent Film Award winners were announced at the Hammersmith Palais in West London, on Nov. 29, 2006.
BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
The Last King of Scotland
* This Is England
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
BEST FOREIGN INDEPENDENT FILM
* Caché / Hidden
De battre mon coeur sest arrêté / The Beat That My Heart Skipped
* Kevin Macdonald The Last King of Scotland
Stephen Frears The Queen
Michael Caton Jones Shooting Dogs
Shane Meadows This Is England
Ken Loach The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Forest Whitaker The Last King of Scotland
Peter OToole Venus
Cillian Murphy The Wind That Shakes the Barley
* Tony Curran Red Road
James McAvoy The Last King of Scotland
Helen Mirren - The Queen
* Kate Dickie Red Road
Frances de la Tour The History Boys
Robin Wright Penn Breaking & Entering
Juliette Binoche Breaking & Entering
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR / ACTRESS
Martin Compston Red Road
* Leslie Phillips Venus
Vanessa Redgrave Venus
Joseph Gilgun This Is England
Stephen Graham This Is England
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER (ON SCREEN)
Jodie Whittaker - Venus
* Thomas Turgoose This Is England
Samuel Barnett The History Boys
Harry and Luke Treadaway Brothers of the Head
Dominic Cooper The History Boys
Rafi Gavron Breaking & Entering
Alan Bennett The History Boys
* Peter Morgan The Queen
Hanif Kureishi Venus
Shane Meadows This Is England
Peter Morgan & Jeremy Brock The Last King of Scotland
THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD (BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR)
* Menhaj Huda - Kidulthood
Paul Andrew Williams London to Brighton
Andrea Arnold Red Road
Tom Vaughan Starter for Ten
Caradog W. James Little White Lies
BEST BRITISH DOCUMENTARY
* The Road to Guantanamo
The Great Happiness Space
The Perverts Guide to Cinema
Unknown White Male
BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
* The Last King of Scotland Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
This Is England Music: Ludovico Einaudi
The Wind That Shakes the Barley Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd
The Queen Make-Up: Daniel Phillips
The Queen Production Design: Alan MacDonald
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
* London to Brighton
The Road to Guantanamo
BEST BRITISH SHORT
The 10th Man
Who I Am & What I Want
At the End of the Sentence
THE RAINDANCE AWARD
* The Ballad of AJ Weberman
London to Brighton
Scenes of a Sexual Nature
BEST 15 SECOND SHORT
Chrysanthemums the Word
* Whats the Point?
Fate and Mr McKinley
Death of the Dinosaurs
THE VARIETY UK PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Jury: Sandy Lieberson (Chair), Reuben Barnes, Martin Childs, Anne V. Coates, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Alan Cumming, Leo Davis, Anna Friel, Jason Isaacs, Mick Jones, Damian Lewis, Helen McCrory, Damien ODonnell, Kelly Reilly, Martin Sherman, and Colin Salmon.
Los Angeles Latino Film Festival Winners
The 10th Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival award winners were announced by Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dermer this past Oct. 16.
Among the screened films, there were two I was eager to watch: Alberto Rodríguez's well-regarded Spanish comedy-drama 7 vírgenes / 7 Virgins, about a young man (San Sebastian Festival Best Actor winner Juan José Ballesta) trying to find his path in life, and Tristán Bauer's equally well-regarded Argentinean drama Iluminados por el fuego / Blessed by Fire, starring Gastón Pauls (the young con man in Fabián Bielinsky's Nueve reinas / Nine Queens) as a Falklands War veteran trying to cope with both his horrific past and his dismal present.
For the record, 7 vírgenes won the Opera Prima (or Best First Film) Award, while Iluminados por el fuego took the Best Screenplay Award (for Bauer, Miguel Bonasso, Edgardo Esteban, and Gustavo Romero Borri). The Best Film Award – the Rita – went to Luis Estrada's Mexican political satire Un Mundo maravilloso / A Wonderful World.
I hope that this year's edition of the Latino festival was better organized than last year's, which I attended as a member of the press. For instance, following a screening of José Antonio Dorado's Colombian drug-trafficking drama El Rey, there were no English-language translators to be found.
Edward James Olmos was present, and asked who in the audience of about 30 people couldn't understand or speak Spanish. I believe I was the only one who raised his hand. (I can understand and speak some Spanish, but I'm hardly fluent.)
At that moment, a press member for a Spanish-language news publication loudly snapped, “Learn it!” The Colombians in the audience found that funny. I failed to see the humor – or the point, considering that filmmaker Dorado was here in Los Angeles, where English is for the most part the language of communication, to promote his Colombian film to an American audience. Since the director couldn't understand or make himself understood in English, I'd have thought that a translator would have been a no-brainer, regardless of the number of non-Spanish speakers in the audience.
As it turned out … for a few minutes, Olmos stood next to me whispering in English what Dorado was saying out loud in Spanish. Shortly thereafter, Olmos disappeared. One of the film's stars stepped in to provide the translation, until the same snappy Spanish-language press member told her to shut up. Since Dorado was ignoring my raised arm – I was right in front of him; my fingers almost going up his nose – I decided it was time to go, report the matter – and get some dinner.
2006 Los Angeles Latino Film Festival: October 6-16, 2006
Best Film - Rita Award: Un Mundo maravilloso / A Wonderful World by Luis Estrada (Mexico)
Best Director: Humberto Solás for Barrio Cuba (Cuba)
Best Screenplay: Tristán Bauer, Miguel Bonasso, Edgardo Esteban, and Gustavo Romero Borri for Iluminados por el fuego / Blessed by Fire by Tristán Bauer (Argentina)
Special Mention - Best Actor: Damián Alcázar, Un Mundo maravilloso / A Wonderful World by Luis Estrada (Mexico)
Special Mention: Masz na imie Justine / Your Name is Justine by Franco de Pena (Poland)
Opera Prima / First Film Award: 7 vírgenes / 7 Virgins by Alberto Rodríguez (Spain)
Audience Award: Elsa y Fred / Elsa and Fred by Marcos Carnevale (Argentina)
Best Documentary: En el hoyo / In the Pit by Juan Carlos Rulfo (Mexico)
Special Jury Award: De Nadie / Nobodys by Tin Dirdamal (Mexico)
Special Jury Award: Habana: Arte nuevo de hacer ruinas / Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins by Florian Borchmeyer and Matthias Hentschler (Germany)
Honorable Mention: From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale by Henry Chalfant (USA)
Best Short: Contracuerpo by Eduardo Chapero-Jackson (Spain)
Special Jury Prize: Invulnerable by Alvaro Pastor (Spain)
Special Jury Prize: Email a Mama / E-mail to Mom by Gerardo Ruiz Miñan (Peru)
Special Honorable Mention: La Leche y el Agua / Milk and Water by Celso Garcia Romero (Mexico)
Special Mention - Technical Achievement: Man vs. Woman by Juan Carlos Vargas (USA)
42nd Chicago International Film Festival Awards - Gold Hugo 2006
INTERNATIONAL FILM COMPETITION
The Silver Hugo:
Taxidermia (Hungary), by György Pálfi
Silver Hugo Award – Best Actress:
Darya Moroz, Victoria Isakova and Anna Ukolova (Russia) for their portrayals of Moscow prostitutes in the Russian film The Spot.
Silver Hugo Award – Best Actor:
Jürgen Vogel (Germany) for his portrayal of a recently released convicted rapist trying to lead a normal life in The Free Will.
Aviva My Love (Israel)
Time (South Korea)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ruby Dee
Career Achievement Award: Betsy Blair, “long time actress and activist in honor of her body of work, distinguished career in the entertainment industry and uncompromising beliefs in the face of great obstacles.”
Career Achievement in Animation Award: Yoshiyuku Tomino
Emerging Visionary Award: Darren Aronofsky
Emerging Artist Award: Andre Benjamin a.k.a. Andre 3000
NEW DIRECTORS COMPETITION
The Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique (FIPRESCI) Award recognizes first and second-time filmmakers whose works are part of the New Directors competition.
The 2006 FIPRESCI Prize is awarded to Day Night, Day Night (US), directed by Julia Loktev.
SHORT FILM COMPETITION
The Gold Hugo for Best Short Film is awarded to Forgetting Betty (US), directed by James Anderson and Robert Postrozny.
Narrative Short Film
The Silver Hugo is awarded to Slavek the Shit (Iceland), directed by Grímur Hákonarson.
The Gold Plaque is awarded to Women Workers Leaving the Factory (Chile), directed by José Luis Torres Leiva.
Certificates of Merit are awarded to Sweetie (Scotland), directed by Becky Brazil, and Wasted (Hong Kong), directed by Hui Hok Man.
Animated Short Film
The Gold Plaque is awarded to Film Noir (UK), directed by Osbert Parker.
Student Animated Film
The Silver Hugo is awarded to Cranium Theatre (US), directed by Jason Sandri.
Silver Hugo for Best Documentary Feature: Exile Family Movie (Austria/Iran), directed by Arash.
Special Jury Prize: The Trials of Darryl Hunt (US), directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg.
Special Jury Prize: Dixie Chicks: Shut up and Sing (US), directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck.
The Chicago Award is presented to a Chicago or Illinois artist for the best feature film, short film or documentary.
Street Thief (US), directed by Malik Bader.
TERRA NOVA SILVER IMAGES GENERATIONS AWARD
Suzanne (France), directed by Viviane Candas.
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD
Vitus (Switzerland) by Fredi M. Murer
Days of Glory (France/Algeria) by Rachid Boucharib
The Queen (UK) by Stephen Frears