‘Leviathan’ named Best Picture at London Film Fest

By , on October 20, 2014


Screenshot from 'Leviathan' trailer
Screenshot from ‘Leviathan’ trailer

LONDON — Movies about corruption, gang violence, honor killing and war took prizes Saturday as the London Film Festival recognized cinema that confronts the harsh realities of our world.

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Leviathan,” a tragic satire of small-town Russian corruption, was named best picture. The film, which took the screenplay prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, was praised for its “grandeur and themes” by a jury that included actor James McAvoy and producer Jeremy Thomas.

Ukrainian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy won the first-feature award for “The Tribe,” a teen-gang drama set at a school for the deaf and performed entirely in sign language, without subtitles.

Actress Sameena Jabeen Ahmed was named best British newcomer for her performance as a British-Pakistani teenager on the run from her family in “Catch Me Daddy.”

The documentary prize went to “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait,” a searing look at war’s brutality by Paris-based director Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, an schoolteacher who filmed life in the besieged city of Homs.

Director Stephen Frears was awarded the British Film Institute’s Fellowship during Saturday’s ceremony at London’s 17th-century Banqueting House.

He was recognized for a career that has traveled from the battered streets of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain in “My Beautiful Laundrette,” to 18th-century France in “Dangerous Liaisons,” seedy Los Angeles in “The Grifters” and Buckingham Palace in “The Queen.” Frears is currently at work on a biopic of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Playwright David Hare, who presented Frears with the honor, said “I can’t think of anyone who’s made a richer, more diverse or more consistently intelligent contribution to British film in my lifetime.”

The 58th London festival opened Oct. 8 with “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as World War II Alan Turing. It wraps up Sunday with another tale of that conflict – “Fury,” starring Brad Pitt as a hard-bitten tank commander in the war’s final weeks.