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‘The Keeper’ catches the Golden Hitchcock award at Dinard Film Festival

The award-winning team for The Keeper at the Dinard Film Festival: (L) Producer Robert Marcinak, actor John Henshaw, actress Freya Mavor and director Marcu Rosenmuller
The award-winning team for The Keeper at the Dinard Film Festival: (L) Producer Robert Marcinak, actor John Henshaw, actress Freya Mavor and director Marcu Rosenmuller Rosslyn Hyams/RFI English

The UK-German film directed by Marcus Rosenmuller is about a German prisoner of war in England at the end of World War who becomes a professional football player. It won the big prize in Dinard from the professional jury. It also won the hearts of the audience to scoop the 2019 Hitchcock Audience Award.

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The double-winning director hailed his actors, David Kross (Bert Trautmann), Freya Mayor (Margaret Friar), John Henshaw (Jack Friar) and the rest of his team.

Rosenmuller said, “To win an audience award is only possible if the actors fall into the hearts of the audience.”

They won the hearts of the audience with an adaptation of the story of Bert Trautmann. From German PoW, he became a leading footballer for Manchester City football club. He married an English woman, Margaret Friar, which didn't win them many friends at the time.

However, times have changed and jubilant at winning grace in the eyes of the audience, the director bounced on stage saying, “what an honour, I’m from Germany, making a co-production with the UK, and we are all here in France.”

Perhaps that’s why the festival changed its name a few years ago to be more inclusive, dropping the word “British” from its title.

Fair and share

Sandrine Bonnaire, the president of the 30th Dinard Film Festival Jury told RFI on Friday that the jury were largely united in their choice, but « two films had really struck the jury equally” so she might be called upon to use her deciding vote. “We’ll see” she said.

In the end, they found a clear winner in The Keeper, but gave a best screenplay award to Vs. directed by Ed Lilly and co-writtne by Lilly and Dan Hayes.

Bonnaire and her jury took an unusual step and decided to make a unique acknowledgement. “Some films we liked more than others, that’s just how it is, however we found that the six films all had one thing in common – wonderful actors and actresses. So we decided to give a ‘special mention’ to all of them.”

Shorts and sweet

The Short Cuts Jury headed up by British director Shane Meadows chose Widdershins as this year’s Hitchcock winner, and 11-minute drawn animation film directed by Simon P.Biggs.

They also singled out In Our Skin, a four-minute film in praise of the female body from Rosa Beiroa.

However, Meadows said that all four jury members, himself, Farah Abushwesha, Phénix Brossard and Diane Gabrysiak “were all genuinely blown away by the quality of the all the films.”

Greatly honoured

This year’s special guest was 76 year-old Mancunian Mike Leigh. The festival awarded the humble film maker an honorary Hitchcock statue.

British film director Mike Leigh holds up his honorary Hitchcock award from the Dinard Film Festival, 28 September, 2019
British film director Mike Leigh holds up his honorary Hitchcock award from the Dinard Film Festival, 28 September, 2019 Rosslyn Hyams/RFI

Instead of a long and flowery speech, he  said the award was "a great surprise and an honour." The film maker went on to wish the festival of British film "a happy 30th birthday", adding wryly, "I hope and know that it will keep going for many years to come, although Great Britain may not."

Leigh’s films have been delighting and moving French audiences for decades (winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s best screenplay award in 1993 for Naked, Golden Palm with Secrets and Lies in 1996, Best Actor for Timothy Spall in his Mr Turner in 2016, five films in all in competition). His 2018 period film Peterloo screened in the Previews section at this year’s Dinard Festival.

No fat lady cried

It was an evening to remember for Hussam Hindi, the outgoing artistic director for the festival, and whose successor has not yet been announced. The Mayor of Dinard gave Hindi a medal of honour from the Town of Dinard. Hindi has been working for the festival for 30 years, and took on the job of artistic director in 1997.

Cinephile as France is, and as interested as the authorities are in cinema too, Film Festival fan Mayor Jean-Claude Mahé said the longevity of the event depends on political will. “We are entering an electoral period [municipal elections due in March 2020]. It would be useful for all the local elected officals, councillors, to have an intelligent think about the place of cinema here,” he suggested.

Awards Recap

  • Hitchcock d’Or (Golden), Jury Grand Prix – The Keeper, Marcus Rosenmuller
  • Hitchcock for Best Screenplay (Allianz) – Vs., Ed Lilly and Dan Hayes
  • Cinema critics award – Only You, Harry Wootlif
  • Audience Hitchcock award – The Keeper
  • Règle du Jeu Association (Western France Art House Cinema Network) award – For Saama,Waad Al-Kataeb & Edward Watts (documentary, Previews Section)
  • Barrière Honorary Hitchcock award – director Mike Leigh
  • Short film Jury Hitchcock award – Widdershins, Simon P. Biggs (animation)
  • Short film audience Hitchcock award – Capital, Freddy Syborn

Dinard Film festival jury 2019

  • French actress, Sandrine Bonnaire, jury chair
  • Italian Actress, Sveva Alviti
  • French actor, Sami Bouajila
  • British director, Michael Caton-Jones
  • British actress, Jane Horrocks
  • French actor, Raphael Personnaz
  • French actress, Aurélie Saada
  • French director, Danièle Thompson
  • British director, James Watkins
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