EIFF 2012: Award winners and festival roundup

The sun has now set on the 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival and with the newly-reinstated award strand winners confirmed, all that remains is to round up the films which were successful at this year’s EIFF. The prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film was created in 1990 to honour the imaginative and creative filmmaking of the British film industry and this year’s nominee list included an eclectic mix of films spanning numerous genres.

The clear favourites amongst critics were Peter Strickland’s atmospheric deconstruction of the horror genre Berberian Sound Studio (2012) and Bart Layton’s utterly compelling documentary The Imposter (2012), which proved that fact can often be stranger than fiction. However, the Michael Powell Award actually went to Penny Woolcock’s hip-hop infused tale of courage and determination One Mile Away (2012). Woolcock’s depiction of rival Birmingham gangs attempting to broker a peace agreement was missed by many critics, yet received unanimous praise from those who were lucky enough to catch it.

Since 2007 there has also been a separate award for the Best Performance in a British Film. Previously won by Katie Jarvis for her assured performance in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank (2009), the award was created to celebrate and promote the art of film performance in the UK. This year the award was shared by Andrea Riseborough and Brid Brennan for their striking roles in James Marsh’s formulaic Northern Irish thriller Shadow Dancer (2011).

Attempting to represent global trends in film, perhaps the most interesting strand of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival was the International Competition. The nominees included Miguel Gomes’ beguiling love story Tabu (2012), Dan Sallitt’s awkward, yet charming study of incest The Unspeakable Act (2012) and Jang Kun-Jae’s subtly moving Sleepless Night (2012) (which went on to win the Student Critics Jury Award). However, this year’s award went to Mao Mao’s Here, Then (2012), a challenging, low-key and enigmatic portrait of alienation set in China.

In the shorts category, Rafael Urban’s Dinosaur Eggs in the Living Room (2012) won the award for Best International Short Film, whilst Will Anderson’s The Making of Longbird (2012) received the nod for Best Film in the British Short Film Competition and the McLaren Award for New British Animation.

Here is the full list of winners:

Michael Powell Award for Best British Film: One Mile Away (Penny Woolcock)
The International Feature Competition: Here, Then (Mao Mao)
Award for Best Performance in a British Film: Andrea Riseborough & Brid Brennan (Shadow Dancer)
Award For Best British Short: The Making of Longbird (Will Anderson)
McLaren Award for New British Animation: The Making of Longbird (Will Anderson)
Best Film in the International Short Film Competition: Dinosaur Eggs in the Living Room (Rafael Urban)
The Student Critics Jury Award: Sleepless Night (Jang Kun-Jae)

The 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place from 20 June-1 July 2012.

Patrick Gamble