51st BFI London Film Festival

UK, October 15 - October 30 2008

The jury

Léo Soesanto (France), Esin Kücüktepepinar (Turkey), Richard Mowe (UK)

Awarded films

“The best films in the world, here in London”, so says Sir Michael Caine’s voice-over during the lovely trailer which opened each screening at the LFF – witty clips of London street life turned into homages of classic movies. And this is how it should be trusted. Looking at all the major festivals of the year, the LFF – sponsored by the Times and the British Film Institute – stays true to its aim: bringing the best to the audience, including public screenings on Trafalgar Square, emphasizing discoveries over red-carpet events and easy glamour, even if Leicester Square had its share of stars (Benicio Del Toro, Robert Carlyle, Rachel Weisz and Jessica Biel, among many), not to mention the Royal World Premiere of the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. Special selections were dedicated to contemporary French cinema, experimental films and restored classics.          

Artistic director Sandra Hebron made sure that all tastes would be satisfied and the selection of films submitted to the FIPRESCI jury reflected this diversity: from the stylized con-comedy of Rian Johnson’s Brothers Bloom to the Indonesian take on Film Noir in Joko Anwars The Secret, from the Beckett-in-China dry humor of Li Hongqi’s Routine Holiday to the pop kitchen-sink of Sallie Aprahamian’s Broken Lines, we had everything. The jury was impressed above all by the freshness of Eran Creevy’s Shifty, the lo-fi Jacques-Tatiesque humor of Ruben Ostlund’s Involuntary and the surrealistic Jean-Stephane Sauvaire’s docudrama about African children soldiers Johnny Mad Dog. The jury finally chose the Australian film Three Blind Mice: this Cassavetian drama impressed us with the chemistry between its actors and the artistic maturity of newcomer actor-director Matthew Newton. In Three Blind Mice, the three naval officer protagonists honestly and disturbingly question their lives one night in Sydney and this subsequently leads to them shipping out to uncertain shores. (Leo Soesanto, edited by Steven Yates)

BFI London Film Festival: www.bfi.org.uk/lff