Netflix’s Atlantics wins First Feature prize at London Film Festival
Staff Reporter | On 13, Oct 2019
Netflix’s Atlantics won the First Feature prize at the London Film Festival last night.
The festival’s 2019 awards were presented on stage ny Festival Director Tricia Tuttle and respective Jury Presidents in front of a public audience, at a special screening of each winning film at Vue Leicester Square.
The Official Competition jury was led by acclaimed Colette and Still Alice director Wash Westmoreland, whose latest film Earthquake Bird also screened in this year’s Festival; the First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award) jury was headed up by Austrian director Jessica Hausner, whose latest film Little Joe also featured in this year’s Festival; the Oscar-nominated director of Strong Island, Yance Ford, led the jury of the Grierson Award for Best Documentary; and finally, award-winning British film producer Jacqui Davies presided over the Short Film Competition jury.
They named Atlantics as the winner of the Sutherland Award in First Feature Competition.
A hypnotic, genre-shifting portrait of a girl’s awakening, Atlantics tells the story of Ada, who faces impending marriage to another man when her lover Souleiman grows tired of labouring without pay on the gleaming towers of Dakar, and sets out across the sea with friends. As the women gather in the bar where the men used to drink, it seems that something else more mysterious has returned to them.
Jessica Hausner, First Feature Competition President said: “Atlantics is a film that intrigued us by its original and refreshing use of genre elements in a story that also has a strong political impact. Set in a country that is going through transition, this film dares to invent a poetic fable, mysterious and challenging. A crime scene that becomes a nightmarish tale, held together by a story of the endurance and persistence of young love.”
The First Feature Competition jury also gave a Special Commendation to House of Hummingbird (Bora Kim).
Yance Ford, who helmed Netflix documentary Strong Island, was Documentary Competition President and presented the Documentary Competition prize (Grierson Award) to Rubika Shah for White Riot.
A vital documentary blending fresh interviews with archive footage, White Riot profiles punky reggae protest movement Rock Against Racism.
“In the spirit of the Grierson Award criteria, White Riot is both a provocation and a tremendous opportunity. In this moment around the world the film implies that perhaps the lessons of the past were never learned,” said Ford. “This rhetoric and politics of this moment in our history is familiar. And although language and symbols evolve, their meaning remains. Without nostalgia for 1979, the power of White Riot is that it points directly at 2019. Rubika Shah has used the power of film to remind us of where we have been and asks how long it will take us to change course.”
Monos, by Alejandro Landes, won the Best Film Award in Official Competition, while Fault Line, by Soheil Amirsharifi, won the Short Film Award in Short Film Competition.
Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director said: “Our awards highlight the most distinctive, urgent and accomplished filmmaking from around the globe and it has been an incredible Festival – with audiences moved, provoked and dazzled by these films, many of which engage with pressing social and political themes in very inventive ways.
“We are hugely grateful to our juries for their time this week in picking the award winners. I know the quality of the nominated films made many of the decisions very difficult and the juries brought a tremendous amount of passion, integrity and expertise to the deliberations.”
The winner of each Competition section was also awarded a commemorative 35 mm print of their winning film, provided by festival sponsor CPC London.