Follow Us on Twitter

Johnny Depp surprises Christopher Lee as 2013 London Film Festival names winners

Story by Jack Foley

JOHNNY Depp was on hand to present a British Institute Fellowship to veteran actor Sir Christopher Lee at the awards ceremony of the 2013 London Film Festival.

The Fellowship is the highest honour the BFI can bestow and recognised the actor’s “enormous and unique contribution to film during a Festival that is committed to excellence”.

Sir Christopher himself was overcome with emotion, particularly after the surprise appearance by Depp (who has starred alongside him in a couple of Tim Burton films) and even became tearful, describing the presentation as “a very emotional moment”.

“I didn’t know you were going to be here. I must try and pull myself together,” he added.

Sir Christopher is famed for his villainous portrayals of Bond bad guy Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun and evil wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. But he has amassed more than 250 screen credits during an illustrious career that has also included the cult hit The Wicker Man, Tim Burton films Sleepy Hollow and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Hammer horror classic such as Dracula.

Depp, who reportedly sneaked into the awards ceremony to surprise his friend, said it was his “great honour” to present the award to “a very great man”.

“He’s been a wonderful individual and over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with him and it has been a childhood dream come true,” he said. “But as great as it is to work with him, that pleasure doesn’t compare with getting to know him and being able to count him as a true friend. [He is] a national treasure and a genuine artist.”

The Fellowship was presented at the end of an awards ceremony that saw Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, about the German occupation of Poland and the Holocaust, named best film.

The movie was described by BFI fellow and film critic Philip French as “a courageous film that handles, with subtlety and insight, a painfully controversial historical situation”.

Screenwriter Jonathan Asser won best British newcomer

Anthony Chen, who directed Ilo Ilo, picked up the Sutherland Award, for the most original and imaginative film debut. His film explores the life and vulnerabilities of a modern affluent family in Singapore.

The Grierson award for the best documentary went to Paul-Julien Robert’s My Fathers, My Mother and Me, a portrayal of life in Friedrichshof, the largest commune in Europe, which was founded in the 1970s.