London Film Festival Winners: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Evil Does Not Exist’ Wins Best Film Award, Palestinian Pic Takes Doc Award – Deadline

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Japanese filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi has clinched the best film award in the main official competition of the 67th London Film Festival with his latest feature, Evil Does Not Exist

The enigmatic pic is Hamaguchi’s follow-up to the Oscar-winning Drive My Car and follows young father Takumi and his daughter, Hana, who live in Mizubiki Village, close to Tokyo. Like generations before them, they live a modest life according to the cycles and order of nature. A plan to construct a glamping site near Takumi’s house, offering city residents a comfortable “escape” to nature, threatens to endanger the ecological balance of the area and the local people’s way of life. 

The festival jury, headed by Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante (Lost in the Night), alongside Kate Taylor, program director of the 2023 Edinburgh International Film Festival, and English novelist Niven Govinden (Diary of a Film),  described Evil Does Not Exist as “subtle” and “cinematic.” 

“Underscored by fully realized performances, Hamaguchi’s assured drama supersedes the sum of its parts. It is both a lyrical portrait of family and community and a nuanced consideration of the ethics of land development. Amidst a strong competition, the jury is unanimous in our admiration,” the jury said. 

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In other main competition awards, Lina Soualem’s Palestinian-focused doc Bye Bye Tiberias won the grierson award of the documentary competition. Set years after leaving her Palestinian village to pursue an acting career in France, the doc follows Hiam Abbass (Succession), who returns home with her daughter, filmmaker Lina Soualem. 

The doc jury, comprised of Rubika Shah, Jeanie Finlay, and Paul Tonta, said with Bye Bye Tiberias, Lina Soualem has “woven an elegant exploration of three generations of women in her family and the places that made them. She has created a poetic and intimate film that transcends the borders of their family home to interrogate grief, identity, and the energy that propels you to find yourself.”

Accepting the award, Soualem thanked the BFI London Film Festival and UK audiences for engaging the film with “warmth and generosity.” 

“At a time when we feel unseen, and more stigmatized than ever, at a time when we don’t know what tomorrow will be like, our films will always exist to remember us,” Soualem said. 

Elsewhere, the Sutherland Award of the first feature competition was nabbed by Mika Gustafson with his feature Paradise Is Burning, while Simisolaoluwa Akande took the short film award with The Archive: Queer Nigerians

The London Film Festival closes this evening with the world premiere of Netflix’s The Kitchen, co-directed by Oscar winner Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya. The film marks Kaluuya’s directorial debut. The London native also served as a writer and producer on the pic. 

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