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Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women wins top prize at London Film Festival (2016)

Certain Women

Story by Jack Foley

KELLY Reichardt’s Sundance hit Certain Women was named best film at this year’s London Film Festival.

The drama, starring Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Michelle Williams, follows three strong-willed women as they strive to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest.

The prize was announced by jury president Athina Rachel Tsangari, whose drama Chevalier had won the same award at last year’s festival.

Other prizes went to Julia Ducournau for her French cannibalism horror Raw, which claimed the Sutherland award for first feature, and Iranian filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei’s Starless Dreams, which took home the Grierson award for best documentary.

The ceremony, which took place at London’s grand Banqueting House on Saturday, October 15, 2016, closed with a standing ovation for director Steve McQueen, who was presented with the BFI Fellowship, the British Film Institute’s highest honour.

Josh Berger, the Warner Bros executive attending his first awards as BFI chairman, described McQueen as one of the “most influential filmmakers and artists in the past 25 years”.

His long-time friend and regular collaborator Michael Fassbender then gave a speech before describing McQueen as a “provocateur, a voyeur, a Londoner and a geezer”. He added that he counted himself blessed to have worked “under the tutelage of one of cinema’s all time greats”, having been his leading man in Hunger and Shame before joining the Oscar-winning ensemble of 12 Years A Slave.

On accepting the BFI Fellowship, McQueen attributed his acclaimed career to a free university education, which he said had allowed him to experiment in his chosen field and opened doors for a working class boy.

“I had freedom because society allowed me to have that freedom,” he said. “It seems that that freedom is being slowly eradicated. It’s our job to fight to keep those doors open.”

With Michael Sheen playing host, Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Anna Friel and David Tennant were on hand to introduce the individual awards.