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London Film Festival 2010: The Arbor takes top Sutherland award

LFF Awards, Clio Barnard

Story by Jack Foley

BRITISH filmmaker Clio Barnard has picked up two awards at the BFI 54th London Film Festival for her debut film The Arbor.

The director took home the Sutherland award, given to the director of the most original feature, as well as the best British newcomer prize. The film offers an unorthodox look at the life of Andrea Dunbar, best known for writing Rita, Sue and Bob Too!.

Barnard is an artist turned filmmaker whose work is more often seen in galleries such as Tate Modern and MoMA. She was delighted and surprised with the awards… two of only five presented by the London Film Festival.

In explaining their decision, however, one juror, screenwriter Tony Grisoni, said: “The Arbor is innovative, eloquent and emotionally resonant. This film, which touched all of us, both challenges conventional film-making and at the same time engages with real lives. A stunning debut.”

Further prizes

Another of the night’s big winners was How I Ended This Summer, a bleak psychological drama set in the Arctic Circle and directed by Russian filmmaker Alexei Popogrebsky.

Explaining this decision, panel chair Patricia Clarkson said: “With elemental themes of isolation, alienation and the power of misunderstanding, How I Ended This Summer is a visceral psychological drama set in the immersive landscape of the windswept Arctic.”

It took the trophy ahead of strong competition from home-grown talent such as Mike Leigh (for Another Year), Oscar-tipped crowd-pleaser The King’s Speech (from Tom Hooper) and Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours.

Boyle, though, did not leave empty-handed, as he was presented with a British Film Institute fellowship in recognition of a diverse body of work that includes the likes of 28 Days Later, Trainspotting, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire.

His latest film, meanwhile, is a dramatisation of the real-life story of climber Aron Ralston, who was forced to amputate his own arm using a dull knife. It closes the festival tomorrow (Thursday, October 28, 2010).

The final award of the night was presented to Janus Metz, who took home the best documetary award for his movie, Armadillo, which follows Danish soldiers on their first posting to Afghanistan.

The London Film Festival awards, which are now in their second year, were handed out at a black-tie dinner at LSO St Lukes, in London, on the penultimate night of the festival (Wednesday, October 27) and were attended by a variety of guests, including the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Andy Serkis, Joanne Froggatt and John Hurt.

View photos from the awards ceremony