BFI London Film Festival Awards: Female filmmakers sweep up awards as Cate Blanchett honoured with fellowship

Athina Rachel Tsangari, Jennifer Peedom, Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel all won awards

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The Independent Culture

While the last week has been littered with stories of actresses expressing their anger and frustration at sexism in Hollywood, BFI’s London Film Festival Awards showed no such prejudice.

Female filmmakers swept up the majority of awards, with four directors winning in three of the competitive categories and Cate Blanchett being honoured with a British Film Institute Fellowship.

Before any awards were given out, chairman Greg Dyke and festival director Clare Stewart made a point of celebrating the number of nominated female directors - fittingly the festival began with a screening of Suffragette featuring a surprise demonstration from Sisters Uncut.

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Jennifer Peedom won the Grierson Award for best documentary with Sherpa, beating competition including Frederick Wiseman and Aleksandr Sokurov, while Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel won best short film for An Old Dog’s Diary.

To many people’s surprise, Greek deadpan comedy Chevalier, about six men on board a yacht, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, won best film of the festival. 

Announcing the award, president of the festival jury, Pawel Pawlikowski, said, according to The Guardian: “Chevalier is a study of male antagonism seen though the eyes of a brave and original film-maker. 

“With great formal rigour and irresistible wit, Tsangari has managed to make a film that is both a hilarious comedy and a deeply disturbing statement on the condition of western humanity.”

Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie pose with the Sutherland Award for the film 'The Witch'

Only one male director took home a prize, newcomer Robert Eggers for his female-fronted film, The Witch. He won the converted Sutherland Award for best first feature. 

Later on in the evening, Cate Blanchett accepted her BFI fellowship from Hobbit co-star Sir Ian McKellen.