The BFI London Film Festival have tonight announced 2023 Award winners. The official competition winner for best film award winner goes to Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist.
Drive My Car director Hamaguchi’s new drama sees a community fighting to preserve its principles and the integrity of their natural world. A camping site development that’s under way in the peaceful village of Mizubiki will forever change the community and surrounding environment. The investors feel differently: ‘A little pollution won’t affect the water’. Driven by Hamaguchi’s sonorous and poetic script, his drama, a microcosm of wider concerns, burrows deep into the pressing issues of value and survival but never loses faith in humanity.
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, said: “I’m genuinely delighted and astonished to hear the news about this award. Sincerely, thank you very much. My heartfelt thanks go out to all involved, especially the cast and crew who diligently toiled behind the scenes. Their exceptional work has always been a source of inspiration to me, and I am sincerely grateful for the result. I would also like to express my gratitude to the judges who recognised our efforts. I want to especially single out Eiko Ishibashi for her contribution to the music. As well as working on the music for the film ‘Drive My Car,’ she also provided the concept for this film. I believe her music played a significant role in bringing this movie to completion and helped it to receive such great reviews. I hope this film brings joy to the British audience upon its U.K. release. And I look forward to visiting London once again in the future. Thank you for this truly wonderful award.”
Eve Gabereau of Modern Films, who are distributing the film in the UK, added that they “too are honoured to win Best Film at our home festival and by the way it was programmed in Competition, received by audiences at the screenings and recognised by the jury to the highest level. It means so much that this beautiful and impactful film for our times of great social, political and ecological challenges has resonated deeply.”
The awards are not all about the already established filmmakers, the Sutherland Award is given to first time directors. Mika Gustafson‘s Paradise Is Burning is this year’s winner.
A trio of arresting and naturalistic performances power this spirited tale of siblings enjoying the pleasures and pitfalls of life ‘home alone’. With their mother absent since Christmas, sisters Laura, Mira and Steffi are used to fending for themselves – finding joy in their freedom and endless illicit capers. Each is on the cusp of something new, but all their futures hang in the balance. Drawing out vivid performances from her young cast.
Mika Gustafson, said: “It is a great honour to receive the Sutherland Trophy for Best First Feature at BFI London Film Festival. Previously awarded to such greats as Julia Decournau and Andrea Arnold. This gives me a lot of energy and courage to keep working and on my next project!”
The First Feature Jury said: “We would like to give the Sutherland Prize to Mika Gustafson’s masterful debut, Paradise is Burning. What a journey. Not only was this a remarkable first feature, but a film that in its own right has such clarity of cinematic language and vision. It’s compelling universe was so complete and effortlessly executed. Nothing has been left untended to in this film, we were THERE, not like a fly on the wall or an intruder; it held us in its arms and it didn’t let us go.”
other winners include Lina Soualem’s Bye Bye Tiberias, with best Documentary (Grierson Award). This is a deeply personal and joyful exploration of her relationship with her mother, the acclaimed actor Hiam Abbass. Simisolaoluwa Akande‘s Queer Nigerians wins the short film award, This poetic film documents the experiences of queer Nigerians, expanding our contemporary understanding of how queerness is expressed.