The Edinburgh International Film Festival closed today with an awards ceremony that culminated in Duncan Jones’s sci-fi debut feature “Moon” landing the fest’s most coveted prize, the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature. The jury, headed by Joe Wright and including Oscar-nominee Frank Langella, said of the film:
We award “Moon” for its singular vision and remarkably assured direction as well as for the inspired manner in which it transcends genre. The central performance by Sam Rockwell embodies the film’s emotional complexity and compelling philosophical perspective.
The award is an aupicious one; recent winners that have gone on to considerable international success include “My Summer of Love,” “Control” and Oscar-winner “Tsotsi” (yes, it’s British). I suspect Jones might land a few more citations, particularly of the Best First Film variety, before the year is out.
(More details, and a full list of awards, after the cut.)
I didn’t mention “Moon” in my Edinburgh coverage largely because I had little to add to Kris’s enthusiastic endorsement last month, but the critical buzz for the film at the festival was significant. It’s fair recognition for a true original, though I must admit my heart would have gone with Andrea Arnold’s stunning “Fish Tank.”
Arnold’s film received its due, however, in the shape of a Best Performance in a British Feature award for its 18 year-old (as of today, in fact) lead Katie Jarvis, which could not be any more deserved. I’ve already waxed lyrical about Jarvis’s astonishing work; in a perfect world, she’d be shooting up the ranks of Best Actress contenders. (Sadly, U.S. distribution is still up in the air.) The jury quite appropriately summed it up as follows:
We award Katie Jarvis’ performance in “Fish Tank” for her portrayal of obsessive first love and visceral alienation. The moral ambiguity is illuminated by this extraordinary debut.
Meanwhile, the festival’s Audience Award went a film I regrettably failed to catch: “The Secret of Kells,” a highly stylised Irish animation that offers a fairytale take on the creation of the famous Gospels manuscript of the title. The film was a real word-of-mouth hit at the festival, so much so that I was unable to procure a ticket for its repeat screening. The Edinburgh audience has a knack for spotting future hits in this race, having previously singled out such titles as “Billy Elliot,” “Man on Wire” and (again) “Tsotsi,” so we might well hear more about this one.
Elsewhere, the inaugural Best New International Feature Award went to another debut, American filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s “Easier With Practice,” which stars up-and-comer Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker”) as a writer enmeshed in a curious long-distance relationship with a woman he’s never met. It’s another film I tried and failed to catch in my time there — such is the frustration of festivals.
Other films handed laurels include Sundance successes “Sin Nombre” and “Humpday,” the latter of which I discussed on Friday. Full list of winners below:
Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film: “Moon”
PPG Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film: Katie Jarvis, “Fish Tank”
Best New International Feature Award: “Easier With Practice”
Standard Life Audience Award: “The Secret of Kells”
Best Documentary Award: “Boris Ryzhy”
Skillset New Directors Award: Cary Joji Fukunaga, “Sin Nombre”
Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award: “Humpday”
UK Film Council Award for Best British Short Film: “After Tomorrow”
Best International Short Film Award: “Princess Margaret Bld.”
Scottish Short Documentary Award: “Peter in Radioland”
McLaren Award for New British Animation: “Photograph of Jesus”