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Tsotsi biggest award winner at Edinburgh Fest

The 59th Edinburgh International Film Festival drew to an official close with the Awards Ceremony, held Sunday at the Caledonian Hilton following the premiere of the Business.

The biggest award winner of the day was clearly Tsotsi, the South African gang drama, which walked away with both the Standard Life Audience Award, and The Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film.

Producer Peter Fudakowski, on accepting the first award, said he was “particularly grateful to Edinburgh for discovering us,” and sent a “big thank you to Scottish audiences for voting us number one.” When Fudakowski was called up to receive The Michael Powell Award, he seemed briefly overwhelmed at the good news.

“I am clearly flabbergasted,” he said. “This is the greatest honour.”

Michael Kuhn, chair of The Michael Powell Award jury also gave a Special Commendation to director Josh Appignanesi for Song of Songs.

“There was a lot of jury deliberation about it,” Kuhn said. “The director is to be commended for the wonderful artistic qualities of the film.”

The Guardian New Directors Award went to Mike Mills for Thumbsucker. Actor and Michael Powell jury member Alessandro Nivola read a statement from Mills, whose music videos have previously screened in the Festival’s Mirrorball programme.

“This is one of the best days… imagine me eating this up like a starving man,” Mills said in his statement. “It means a lot to me to win an award from a festival that has been watching me from the beginning.”

The Kodak UK Film Council Award for the Best British Short Film went to Hibernation, written and directed by John Williams. Judged by an international jury, the award carries a prize of £1000, and £1000 worth of Kodak film stock.

Autobiographical Scene Number 6882, by Ruben Östlund walked away with the European Film Academy Short Film 2005 – Prix UIP, an award celebrating work by both established, and up and coming filmmakers.

The McLaren Award for New British Animation was claimed by Elizabeth Hobbs’ The True Story of Sawney Beane. Named after Stirling born, Glasgow School of Art trained artist Norman McLaren, an artistic pioneer in his own right, the award celebrates creativity in the field of animation.

The Saltine Society Award for Short Scottish Documentary went to Arts: The Catalyst, The Craigmillar Story directed by Simon Hinds. Now in its fourth year, this award is given to first or second time filmmakers of Scottish short documentaries.
Andi Argast

Tsotsi directed by Gavin Hood / UK & South Africa / 2005 / 94 min
starring Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto, Kenneth Nkosi, Mothusi Magano, Zenzo Ngqobe, Zola, Rapulana Seiphemo, Nambitha Mpumlwana, Nonthuthu Sibisi, Nthuthuko Sibisi

'Tsotsi' means 'thug' - the only appropriate term for the film's violent young protagonist.

After beating one of his own gang almost to death in an argument, Tsotsi shoots a woman outside her home and steals her car - unaware, in his panic, that her baby is in the back seat, or that said child will mark the first stage of his long, reluctant path to redemption... Beautifully shot and convincingly performed, this deeply affecting drama (shot on location in the poverty-stricken townships outside Johannesburg) carries an extraordinary emotional power, a portrait of third-world ghetto life that's every bit as raw as City Of God- from its bravura opening sequence (a violent robbery-murder on a crowded train) to its wrenching, beautifully-modulated closing shot. One of the discoveries of the year.

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