Thursday, 29 October 2009

The 53rd London Film Festival

Jacques Audiard

Jacques Audiard (De battre mon coeur s'est arrete, France 2005) has just won the inaugural Best Picture Award for his film Un prophete (France 2009)at this year's London Film Festival.
Un prophete had already been shown at the Cannes Film Festival, where it lost out to Haneke's Das weisse Band (see entry below).

Another award?
Another film festival?

Anything to promote films, particularly those whose producers lack the necessary coin to invest in big publicity campaigns, is of course a good thing. Even if it means that trying to get a grip on the world of the world's film festivals is equal to trying to click away annoying pop-ups on your computer: they spring up one after the other, and before you've realised one is there, the next one is already on its way. From Sao Paulo to Tribeca, from Zurich to Pusan, from Rome to Nyon, and from Toronto to Telluride, to say nothing of old, established film festivals such as Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, or Locarno - and, of course, Cannes, Berlin, and Venice. It seems that nowadays, if a town or city wants to give itself an edge, all it takes is founding a film festival. The best example is Dubai, which also has a leg up on most other film fests inasmuch as money is not an issue, and thus is able to splurge where other festivals, like Berlin, for instance, have to cut corners and still have to constantly woe sponsors and government officials alike, as it is funded in equal parts by the state as well as outside sponsors.

Actress Anjelica Huston, Head of the jury at the 53rd London Film Festival

The London Film Festival, though, is in its 53rd year, which makes it a (relative) veteran among the world's film festivals, and surely, it is the last city on earth that needs to prove that it has an edge by staging a film festival. Still, unlike Venice, Cannes, or Berlin, it is not a so-called A-Festival, primarily showing films (like Un prophete) which have already been shown on other festivals, and traditionally its main purpose was that it served as a UK launching pad for all sorts of films which hope to benefit from the added publicity and the hu-ha that generally surround most film festivals. But now they're giving away awards, too ... We - in the Western world - are indeed living in an inflationary world too much of everything: inundated with images, information, impressions, data, and ... awards. So the award Audiard has just received, is it simply another award that disappears in a flood of similar awards given out by other festivals, bodies and organisations - or does it indeed still mean something, stand for something, in spite of it?