Patricio Guzmán on The Pearl Button

Have the strongest people always dominated everywhere? We look into Patricio Guzmán’s new film The Pearl Button, ahead of its UK release this week.

Georgia Korossi

The Pearl Button (2015)

The Pearl Button (2015)

“I’d love for these water people not to have disappeared.”
Patricio Guzmán, The Pearl Button

Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán was held in solitary confinement in Santiago’s National Stadium and was threatened with execution after the 1973 coup d’etat brought down Salvador Allende. He has since lived in Cuba, Spain and France. His acclaimed films have been premiered at Cannes film festival including the stand out The Battle of Chile (1975-78), Obstinate Memory (1997), The Pinochet Case (2001), Salvador Allende (2004) and Nostalgia for the Light (2010). The later was awarded the Grand Prix by the European Film Academy in 2010 and his trilogy The Battle of Chile is considered one of the best documentary films ever made.

Even today, the military is involved in Chilean affairs. Chile is an island with no right to strikes, no freedom of expression and the church meddles with state affairs. In Chile, for the popular masses that fought against the dictatorship there’s still a long way to remove its violent consequences: a mere 40 percent of the dictatorship’s crimes have been brought to trial leaving other crimes, including citizens involved with it, still untouched.

Following his Nostalgia for the Light, which was set in the extreme deserts in the north of Chile, Guzmán shifts his direction to the seas that line Chile’s longest border known as Western Patagonia for his new film The Pearl Button. We saw it at its UK premier at last year’s BFI London Film Festival and were struck by its beauty. Guzmán and his commands Keri Lee Pashuk and Greg Landreth sailed to the extraordinary glaciers of Patagonia from Seno del Almirantazgo to the Beagle Canal where he shot his film.

Patricio Guzmán

Patricio Guzmán

Keeping true to his work theme, Guzmán examines the stories of Pinochet’s coup d’etat further to try and understand what happened. But as Guzmán believes, the coup d’etat will hang around for a century. Chile today is a country in which abortion is illegal, there are no gay rights and lives under Pinochet’s constitution.

The Pearl Button features unseen archive photographs and a huge map of Chile scaled down to 15-metres long by Guzmán’s friend and painter Emma Malig. Guzmán’s influence for his film came from the unique historical photographs of the Kawesqar ethnic survivors taken by Paz Errázuriz in the 1990s and Selk’nam ethnic groups in their canoes taken by Austrian priest Martin Gusinde. Alongside its outstanding cast that includes last descendants of the Kaweskar and Yagan ethnic groups, social historian Gabriel Salazar and poet Raúl Zurita, Guzmán’s latest film is an extraordinary and remarkable documentary. It takes us a step closer to revealing the chilling events of the coup d’etat and the crimes of the colonisers practised to the indigenous people of Patagonia.

Is The Pearl Button a continuation of your 1992 film, The Southern Cross?

It’s not a continuation as such. But of course it touches on the same thing. I consider it the most similar thing that I’ve made. The last two films that I’ve made, Nostalgia for the Light and The Pearl Button, are obviously similar to The Southern Cross.

Had you visited the southern country of Chile before you started filming The Pearl Button?

No, I had never been to the southern country until 2012.

Since you made Nostalgia for the Light there seem to be more people taking responsibility for their crimes. Have people opened up in Chile?

Yes, there are more groups that want to fight for justice. And there are groups of ex-prisoners that are getting organized. Many lawyers are now dealing with these civil rights cases. There are also strong students’ movements that are supporting this. So essentially there’s change, not as quickly as one would have liked but it’s changed.

This is very optimistic.

Yes, I’m an optimist now.

What’s the link between the disappeared and the indigenous people in The Pearl Button?

They are the same thing. The indigenous people were exterminated, literally shot, contaminated and encapsulated in the same place where 100 years later Allende’s ministers were also encapsulated. So there is a direct physical connection between the two.

pearl-button-the-2015-05-native-manA repetition of history, only that 10,000 years later we see these crimes become more sophisticating. However there’s optimism in your film.

I think there are more elements now, more laws, more experts and specialists who can study this whole period of repression and dictatorship. There are writers, authors, judges who have written their own memoirs. So there are whole groups of different elements in the society, which are open to judge what happened at that time.

Oblivion struck Chile’s people up until recently then. What’s the importance of collective memory in a society?

What I do is try to not forget. To always remember what happened with Pinochet at the end of Allende’s period. To speak with the prisoners and the judges, to keep all this alive but I’m not a militant activist and I’ve never been one. I’ve always been independent: you can manage to be a little more when you’re faced with all that happened in Chile. The life of an intellectual in a country like Chile cannot function in another way: you have to make everything you can do by studying to keep the memory alive. You must not be scared to be militant in that way. That is the fundamental purpose of filming. I want to stress I don’t make it for militant purposes. It’s more of a humanistic point of view.

How does photography and art influence your work?

First of all I found the artists. I had worked with painter Emma Malig before in my film Salvador Allende and I asked her to make a complete map of Chile for The Pearl Button. I loved the idea of this 15-meters map in order to show what Chile looks like. You can role it up! A country you can role up! It was of course an old map of South America and you can see the Andes and it’s all a bit diffused and ambiguous. But if you actually read the map flat and put it on the ground you can see the country. It took her two months to make it.

Renate Sachse (Atacama Productions): So initially she wanted to make it 20-meters long but she couldn’t find somewhere to roll it out. So she had to reduce it to 15. Her atelier was 5-meters long so she had to do it in parts, five at a time and then put it together.

Could you tell us about your collaboration with Chris Marker?

Chris helped us specifically with the logistics of the material, film and time at the edits. He wasn’t a collaborator as such and he wasn’t standing at the editor’s room with me. He would write a letter with ideas and advice but more in general. And afterwards I didn’t see him. I went to Cuba to do all the editing for the film [The Battle of Chile trilogy], to put it together. It was an infinite and exhausting work and I’d lost touch with him at that point. I re-found him in San Francisco and he was very warm. Then, sadly he died two years ago.


Gabriela Paterito

Both listening to the indigenous people and the sound in The Pearl Button are incredible. Did you deliberately choose to use the voice over at the ending credits as an act of survival?

Yes, I did. I was fascinated by the sound of the accent. I had no idea what she [Gabriela Paterito] was saying. I didn’t even know if she was answering what I had asked her because she spoke and spoke a lot. She’s extraordinary that woman.

What do you consider as an achievement in your work?

To tell the history of Chile and especially to review that history from the 70s to now, 40 years on.

Is there anything you want to say about new documentary filmmakers?

It’s fascinating, the reality of everything. Such extraordinary things happen in the world but you have to document. In Latin America there are hundreds of films waiting to be made and it must be the same in all other countries. You have to just pick up the camera and shoot yourself. And it doesn’t matter how it’s going to be distributed. It’s happening now in the streets, there are hundreds of documentaries that have to be made now.

The Pearl Button is released in UK on 18 March.

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11 international women in film

To mark International Women’s Day 2016, we celebrate women in film from around the world. Here are 11 women to honour and admire this year.

Georgia Korossi

View our gallery, 25 international women in film.

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The Artists Cinema 2016

Guerrilla-style distribution brings back experimental film in cinemas across UK.

Georgia Korossi

The Artists Cinema invitation

The Artists Cinema invitation

The Artists Cinema, a collaborative project by LUX and the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) returns this year with its unique form of distribution. A selection of five new commissions will be presented with mainstream feature films in cinemas, guerilla-style. The films will be paired up with Dad’s Army, Hail Caesar!, Trumbo and Spotlight and will be playing at ICO programmed independent cinemas as well as the picture house cinema circuit.

The Artists Cinema 2016 is funded by Arts Council England and brings back new and leading contemporary artists on the big screen to engage audiences with experimental films. Previous editions in 2006 and 2010 reached audiences nationwide with works by artists including Palme D’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Turner Prize nominee Phil Collins and widely recognised artist on the international art scene Deimantas Narkevicius.

The five international artists presented this year take a standout cinematic point of view, lyrical with visual tendency, which unfolds the raw evolution of experimental film form in contemporary cinema. They are concerned with realist film not by following an actor around with a handheld camera but by pushing the boundaries with action and sensuality. They are Dora García, winner of the PIAC International Prize of Contemporary Art 2015, Margaret Salmon whose work has been shown widely including Venice (2007) and Berlin Biennale (2010), Guggenheim Fellow Naeem Mohaiemen, winner of the 2010 Locarno Golden Leopard of Tomorrow Gabriel Abrantes, and recipient of the 2014 Max Mara Art Prize for Women Corin Sworn with Tony Romano.

The Coat

Dir:Directors Corin Sworn with Tony Romano | Canada/Italy/UK | 2016 | 5 mins 30 secs

Glasgow-based artist Corin Sworn centres her plot around a father-daughter relationship with a sly commentary on the current politics of migration. Two travelling actors stop on a country road to check on their props only to discover two mystery passengers at the back of their truck. Sworn worked in collaboration with Canadian artist Tony Romano and the film’s bawdy humour is flavoured with its performative megaphone announcement and signalling song of adorable melody.


Dir: Margaret Salmon |UK | 2016 | 4 minutes

American and British based filmmaker-artist Margaret Salmon filmed Bird in the Scottish woodlands for a study of songbird repertoires. Her close-up portraits of birds weave lyricism and reality, introducing a new form of sound-image fusion. Salmon’s film is an orchestration of mimicking and sound holding territory in striking natural mechanisms. Salmon won the first Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2006.

El helicóptero

Dir: Dora García |Belgium/Spain | 2016 | 6 mins

Spanish artist Dora García re-enacts one of the 1966 Happenings by Argentinian art critic-psychoanalyst of Lacanian influence, Oscar Masotta (1930-1979). To understand El helicóptero, I should probably mention that Masotta’s emblematic work responded to the generation of Argentinian intellectuals from 1955 onwards, which created a social phenomenon of Western Zen-fetishisation in the context of American capitalism and class stratification. These intellectuals were derived from the extended crisis of hegemony that took place in the years between Perón’s fall from power and the return of the military in much bloodier guise in 1976.

The re-enactment in García’s El helicóptero denies the distinction between the audience and performer and they are completely removed from each other. Yet they are bound together in a chiasmic relationship.

Abu Ammar is Coming

Dir: Naeem Mohaiemen |Bangladesh/Lebanon/USA | 2016 | 6 mins
© Chris Steele-Perkins, Magnum Photos

© Chris Steele-Perkins, Magnum Photos

Utopian dreams vanish in the scale of war’s murderous core, like dust in the paradox of time. In search for peace, writer-visual artist Naeem Mohaiemen who works in Dhaka and New York, is surrounded by photographs from the archives of Al-Yom, As-Safir, An-Nahar and the Arab Image Foundation. His short essay film, Abu Ammar is Coming, continues his exploration of the 1970s revolutionary left and Bangladeshi fighters as human beings struggling for survival. Its narration reminiscences our relation between what we see and what we know, which is never settled.

A Brief History of Princess X

Dir: Gabriel Abrantes with Francisco Ciprianni |Portugal/France | 2016 | 6 mins

A unique storytelling that is equally refreshing for its bold point of view in art criticism, North Carolina writer-director Gabriel Abrantes’ film tells the story of sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s vision of simplicity. It had its breakthrough following a commission from princess Marie Bonaparte to make her a portrait. Brancusi’s infamous sculpture ‘Princess X’, 1915-1916, traveled to a series of unfortunate art events, which had their glamour stolen by the works of Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. But in fact the portrait’s misunderstood meaning lies in Freud’s major 1900 work ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’: the bronze phallus pursues the inner reality of visionary princess Bonaparte, Napoleon’s great grand niece.

The Artists Cinema 2016 launches on 8 February at Tate Britain.

Georgia Korossi is writer and film programmer specialising on experimental cinema and documentary. She is contributor to BFI News and has curated film programmes in partnership with the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival and contemporary artists in UK and Greece. She recently acted as production researcher for John Akomfrah’s film The Airport (2016) – currently showing at Lisson gallery – a three screen film installation which recalls the work of two filmmaking greats: Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) and Theo Angelopolous (1935-2012).
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The best of LSFF 2016

Starting the new year with new visions, the 13th London Short Film Festival rounded up last Sunday with the announcement of its award winners.

Georgia Korossi

No Wolf Has a House (2015)

No Wolf Has a House (2015)

“Life is great. Without it you’d be dead”

Carrying on from last year’s ethos –“we’re not here to entertain you, we’re here to make you feel uncomfortable” – and growing from the Halloween Society short film night 20 years ago, the LSFF was back again this year with Harmony Korine’s short films and music videos on the projector in partnership with Mubi and a showcase of the short films of Fyzal Boulifa, Taina Galas, Joern Utkilen, Jessica Sarah Rinland, Derek Jarman collaborator Richard Heslop and cats, many cats. We chose 11 short films, which we loved seeing at the festival.

Sofia Safanova 2015 UK 16 mins

Winner of the Best New British Short Award Sponsored by British Council

Tamara is now nominated for the European Critics Circle Award

Shot in Krasnoyarsk, Southern Siberia Tamara is a collaboration between the students of London Film School, FAMU (Academy of Performing Arts in Prague) and has mixed non-professional cast and siberian film specialists. Siberian bus conductor Tamara introduces her teenage son Max to the colleague she has been dating for a while. However as they meet in a karaoke bar, she starts questioning her happiness and is forced to look after her own self instead.

Tamara (2015)

Tamara (2015)

Watch the trailer for Tamara

No Wolf Has a House
Hana Jušić 2015 Croatia 25 mins

Winner of the ShortsTV Award for Best International Short Film

Breezily surreal and creepy, Jušić’s post 60s Godard-like film is about a guileless woman who escapes a marriage that’s decidedly wrong and too much about meat and flesh.

No Wolf Has a House (2015)

No Wolf Has a House (2015)

Watch the trailer for No Wolf Has a House

Mining Poems or Odes
Callum Rice 2015 UK 10 mins

Winner of the Open City Docs Award for Best Documentary Short Film

Robert, an ex-shipyard welder from Govan in Scotland, reflects on how his life experiences have influenced his new found compulsion to write. His retrospective poetry reveals a man who is trying to achieve a state of contentment through words and philosophy. He has replaced his tools for pens and paper.

Billy Lumby 2015 UK 15 mins

Nominated for BAFTA 2016 in the British Short Film category

Writer-director Billy Lumby worked with art director Azalia Francis on handheld cameras for their Samuel-613. Its an imaginative ethnographic hybrid that tells the story of 23-year-old Hasidic Jew Shmilu (played by Theo Barklem-Biggs), who struggles to relate with his community and enters the void of modern-day Britain. Lumby went undercover in a synagogue in east London as part of his film research.

Simon Cartwright 2015 UK 11 mins

Nominated for BAFTA 2016 in the British short animation category

This is wild, weird and underground. Glen attends a cult world while on primal therapy treatment to discover his masculinity but he finds that he cannot make a sound. It’s altogether a new kind of work, dark and amazingly shot.

Jörn Threlfall 2015 UK 14 mins

Nominated for BAFTA 2016 in the British Short Film category

Shot in west London, Over documents the quite suburban neighbourhood of Phillimore Gardens at different times of a day. What we discover at the end of its quarter of an hour length, is shocking and one realises how helpless we all are.

Nina Gantz 2015 UK 9 mins

Nominated for BAFTA 2016 in the British short animation category

Drinking water from a fish tank, imagining of connecting back to our umbilical cord…already this doesn’t sound like a happy life. Gantz’s Edmond is about troubled minds unable to connect with, what the common mind understands it to be, real world.

The Curse
Fyzal Boulifa 2012 Morocco/UK 16 mins

A retrospective of collaborations between British-Moroccan director Fyzal Boulifa and Romanian-born cinematographer Taina Galis, brought back their bold 2012 film of intoxicating camera work and story resonance to the big screen. Boulifa and Galis’s latest collaboration, Rate Me (2015), was nominated for this year’s Best UK Short Film award.

Watch The Curse online

Dailies to Dawn
Kristina Cranfeld 2015 UK 18 mins

Winner of the ICA Award for Best Experimental Short Film

Shot in 16mm Cranfeld’s film is an exploration of the physical relationship between the celluloid, the artist and film processing by craftsmen at one of the last film laboratories in the UK. It’s a poetic journey that brings to mind the serene beauty of Nathaniel Dorsky’s cinema with shots of glorious sunlight merging with bubbling close-ups, water and flowers.

Dailies to Down (2015)

Dailies to Down (2015)

Benjamin Fox 2015 UK 3 mins

Benjamin Fox’s previous film Suchstuff (2014) was the winner of the ICA Award for Best Experimental Short at the LSFF last year. His Maelstrom is an experimental ethnographic look in the First World War with archive footage and metallic graphics.

Eva Riley 2015 UK 15 mins

Winner of the Women & Film in TV Award for Best Woman Director

A number of films are made on this topical subject of rising patriotism and racial discrimination in the UK. But it’s a subject destructive enough and in trying to communicate through film that it’s a crime, it needs terrific skills. The fact that Riley’s film Patriot won her the award for Best Woman Director is therefore satisfying but above all wonderful news.

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The 11 best films of 2015 in pictures

The year’s top movies as selected by 11polaroids.

We say goodbye to 2015 with the unforgettable stories we saw this year on the big screen. The story of Martin Luther King’s struggle to get African-American people the right to vote, the half-human-half-selkie girl of Celtic legend who must find her voice, photographer Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s eye of our world and the 15 million people worldwide who marched against the war in Iraq.

Read the interview with Theeb director Naji Abu Nowar.
Read the interview with Touching the Void and Sherpa producer John Smithson.

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Barry Lyndon: 40th anniversary

We mark the film’s birthday with some painterly images and behind the scenes shots with the cast and crew, as selected by 11polaroids.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon (1975) is Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Victorian novel about the rise and fall of an 18th century Irish adventurer (performed by Ryan O’Neal). It was filmed on location in Ireland, England and Germany and won 4 academy awards in categories from its outstanding production.

Like art objects, Kubrick’s 1975 film invites the viewer to observe its allusive composition and man’s failure from grace. Its our obligation to resist its force reflected through elegance and downfall. But Kubrick’s cinematic and art historical oeuvre resonates to this day.

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59th BFI London Film Festival roundup

From the water people of Patagonia to the story of Shmilu in Hackney, here are 10 films that intrigued us most from this year’s festival.

Georgia Korossi

The Ocean is an idea.
The Pearl Button (2015)

The Pearl Button

The Pearl Button

The programme team behind the BFI London Film Festival declared 2015 the year of strong women. With Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette opening the 12-day-long celebration of international film, it was meant to be an honour to be a woman, outrightly.

238 films screened across 16 cinemas in the capital. But seeing the restoration of Black Girl (1966), the first feature by the father of African cinema Ousmane Sembène and the new documentary about his life and work, Sembene! by Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman, was a rare and special occasion.

As it’s impossible to include in this list every single film we loved, honourable mentions go to Magnus von Horn’s The Here After in the first feature competition, Dagur Kári’s Virgin Mountain, Mor Lousy’s Censored Voices, Pablo Larraín’s The Club, Zhia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart and Miguel Gomes’s Arabian Nights trilogy.

Taxi Tehran
Director Jafar Panahi


Iranian director Jafar Panahi poses as a taxi driver in his latest film. He drives through the streets of Tehran, capturing moments from the daily lives of the city’s residents with a camera hidden in his car. At times the film offers a grim outlook for the country’s future, but an appearance by Panahi’s niece gives some cause for optimism.

Director Michael J Larnell


Michael J Larnell’s feature is about male friendship and trust in modern society. With outstanding black and white cinematography, Cronies is a sharp work that holds your attention to the end of the credits. Filmed in St. Louis with local actors, it features an irresistible hip hop soundtrack, including contributions by local indie artist Raye Cole. When it was screened to Spike Lee at New York University, he immediately came on board as an executive producer.

Gayby Baby
Director Maya Newell

Maya Newell’s Gayby Baby is a journey into the lives of three Australian 12 year-olds with same-sex parents. At the time of writing this PG-rated film is banned from being screened in schools in New South Wales, despite the fact that there’s literally nothing here that might be deemed offensive. The film simply demonstrates that these kids live utterly normal lives, facing everyday difficulties with the support of loving, generous parents. But the children are fully aware that their families are viewed as different, and raise some timely questions.

The Pearl Button
Director Patricio Guzmán


The-Pearl-Button-2015-statements-palaciosThe new film by Chilean documentary master Patricio Guzmán is as eerie as it is enlightening. It’s both a meditation on southern Chilean history, and a mesmerising study of the Pacific Ocean. This powerful rumination on life, water, and its hidden mysteries is every bit the equal of Guzmán’s 2010 masterpiece Nostalgia for the Light.

Watch Patricio Guzmán talks about The Pearl Button following the screening at the LFF

Jia Zangke: The Guy from Fenyang
Director Walter Salles


If I can claim my country now it is because I left it for some time.
-Jia Zhangke
Jia Zhangke: The Guy From Fenyang (2015) 

There are times when you ask yourself if certain film directors from far away corners of the world ever met and talked about ideas to each other. One of these instances refers to Chinese director Jia Zhangke and Chilean director Patricio Guzmán. Both masters of cinema, however they share something deeper: an existential truth about their roots.

Brazilian director Walter Salles filmed his new documentary about the Chinese director with such exceptional passion for his medium and Zhangke’s work that can rarely be found elsewhere. In a world of confused values here’s Zhangke speaking in front of the camera and says: “Peoples destinies have really not changed”. Then camera then follows Zhangke to the locations where he shot his most iconic films including, A Touch of Sin (2013), Still Life (2006) and Unknown Pleasures (2002), at which point he tells us the story about his father, a touching tale about freedom of speech and the right to live.

Watch the Jia Zhangke and Walter Salles screentalk during the LFF

Director Athina Rachel Tsangari


Winner of the Best Film award at this year’s festival, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s follow-up to Attenberg (2010) is a study of male egotism that will have you laughing all the way through. It’s shot mostly on board a private yacht, and the claustrophobic cabins inhabited by its passengers and crew are contrasted with beautiful shots of the Mediterranean sea. Tsangari is the first female Greek filmmaker to receive wide international acclaim, and she absolutely deserves this.

The Lobster
Director Yorgos Lanthimos


A followup to his 2011 ghost story Alps, The Lobster is director Yorgos Lanthimos’ return to the festival with his first English language feature, this time with the support of the BFI Film Fund. It is a damn-utter irony when a director films a picture that accurately describes modern day reality before anyone else does and he is then called the initiator of weird Greek cinema. Absurdly and rather secretly, modern-day society insists on giving a greater respect to heterosexual matching, marriage and family as opposed to single life. But no other picture could emphasise this strange 21st century reality better than The Lobster.

Lanthimos once again invests on detail, cast (Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Angeliki Papoulia, John C. Reilly, Ariane Labed, Léa Seydoux and Olivia Colman, to name a few) and slow motion. His added features of working with dance choreographers and theatre plays in the past, shine throughout his new feature, expertly including silent disco, terrific Irish locations and the exotic animal kingdom of peacocks, rabbits and dogs. The Lobster is a story about the meaning of love.

The Lobster is on release across UK and Ireland since 16 October.

Director Todd Haynes


Impeccably stylish and romantic, director Todd Haynes returns with another exquisite picture, Carol, Phyllis Nagy’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking novel The Price of Salt (1952). Actor Rooney Mara gives an exceptional performance in the role of young photographer Therese who falls in love with the alluring lead, gorgeously played by Cate Blanchett. Set at a time when love between women was unspeakable, Therese meets Carol at a Manhattan department store just before Christmas and the two women embark on a road trip to the cosy countryside.

He Named Me Malala
Director Davis Guggenheim


The astonishing new documentary by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth), He Named Me Malala, follows one of the most famous teenagers in the world and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize at 17, Malala Yousafzai. Named after a famous Afghan poetess and warrior, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for campaigning girl’s education in Pakistan and was forced to move to Britain following the attack. Behind her brave and remarkable story told through her experiences, life and members of her family expertly illustrated with terrific animation, Guggenheim’s film brings hope to all women and courage in our world, desperately asking for peace.

Director Billy Lumby


We couldn’t close this roundup without underlining the programme of short films in the festival. Together with the launch of the Short Film Award, this year’s festival had an expanded programme of shorts curated in diverse themes including family, neighbourhood, experiences of fight or flight, mediums and messages.

Outside the short film award competition, a special mention is due to newcomer writer-director Billy Lumby’s Samuel-613 for its ethnographic, imaginative and technical qualities. Lumby went undercover in a synagogue in east London as part of his film research. It tells the fictional story of 23-year-old Hasidic Jew Shmilu (played by Theo Barklem-Biggs), who struggles to relate with his community and enters the void of modern-day Britain.

59th BFI London Film Festival award winners

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