Jacques Audiard's masterly Rust And Bone, easily the critical and commercial hit of the 56th BFI London Film Festival expectedly won the Best Film Award. Another shoo-in was Sally El Hosaini's My Brother The Devil that justified the pre-festival buzz by beating off all other comers to take home the Best British Newcomer prize. The Sutherland Award for Best First Feature went to Benh Zeitlin, director of Beasts Of The Southern Wild. Alex Gibney won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary for Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God.
This year, the festival saw record attendance with audience numbers rising to 149,000, a 12% increase from the previous year. New Festival Director Clare Stewart introduced a revised programme structure and competitive sections as well as shortening the festival to 12 days, whilst expanding its reach to more cinemas in London and the rest of the UK with two cinecast screenings. In all, the festival screened 228 fiction and documentary features, including 12 World Premieres, 11 International premieres, 37 European premieres and 111 live action and animated shorts from 68 countries. There were 570 filmmaker guests, including 286 UK- based and 284 from outside the UK and 1139 industry delegates attending 43 industry screenings and events.
The festival closed with the European premiere of Mike Newell's Great Expectations, a fitting finale to the Charles Dickens bicentenary celebrations. The entire cast was present in force, along with Newell and the producers, delighting a capacity closing night crowd at Leicester Square.
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