By Sarah Chaffey
The London Film Festival 2019 ended last Sunday with The Irishman premiere at the ODEON Luxe Leicester Square.
The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Jane Rosenthal. It centres around an ex-hitman (De Niro) looking back on his colourful career and was said by Variety to be a “majestic Mob epic with ice in its veins”.
But the smaller independent films are the real heart of the festival. Let’s look at the winning titles:
First Feature Competition – inventive directorial debuts.
From films about black culture and gentrification in California (The Last Black Man in San Francisco) to German psychodramas about déjà vu (Relativity), this category was hugely varied.
The award goes to: Atlantics
Set in the second most polluted city in the world, this French-Senegalese film by Mati Diop follows Ada (Mama Sane) who is left in Dakar, after a wave of emigrants leave looking for a better future. One of these migrants is the love of her life Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré).
Documentary Competition – stories from society and culture
These documentaries covered disturbing true-crime (Cold Case Hammarskjöld) and the post-dictatorship patriarchy in Portugal (A Pleasure, Comrades!) giving audiences a variety of stories to learn from.
The award goes to: White Riot
This documentary illuminates the use of rock music to fight racism in the 1970s beginning at an antifascist carnival in Victoria Park. Unseen interviews of The Clash, X-Ray Spex and Steel Pulse shows how music could change peoples’ hearts. Directed by Rubika Shah.
Short Film Competition – confident cinematic voice
These small parcels of cinematic beauty included original content such as hearing-impaired twins (If You Knew) and confident portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters (GU04).
The award goes to: Fault Line
Iranian schoolgirl Nahal must hide a mistake as she made in a strict environment where coming of age is challenging. Directed by Soheil Amirsharifi.
Official Competition – inspiring feature films
Successes from this category included Honey Boy by Shia LeBeouf and Moffie by Oliver Hermanus.
The award goes to: Monos
Directed by Alejandro Landes, this thriller about child soldiers in South America is described by BFI as leaving a “feverish buzz” amongst audiences.
If you’re interested in any of these films, keep an eye out for wider cinema release or on streaming services. Looking forward to BFI 2020 already? Create a free account on their website to get updates, offers and the film programme for next year.