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Francis Lee Scoops Edinburgh Award for ‘God’s Own Country’

Variety logo Variety 6/30/2017 Stewart Clarke
© Provided by Variety

Francis Lee won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival for “God’s Own Country,” with Bulgaria’s “Glory” landing the best International Feature Film accolade.

“God’s Own Country,” which was Lee’s directorial debut, opened Edinburgh with its U.K. premiere, having previously created a buzz at Sundance. The film follows a young farmer who develops an intense relationship with a Romanian migrant worker.

“After premiering at Sundance and Berlin it has been wonderful to see how the film has created a real resonance with people, and that is why the Michael Powell Award feels so brilliant,” Lee said.

The Michael Powell jury said: “Assured direction with raw and endearing performances result in a film that has an authenticity that is both tender and brutal, a juxtaposition of landscape and emotion, which explores the question of what it means to be a man.”

Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s “Glory” also had its U.K. premier in Edinburgh. The film follows a railway worker who finds a pile of money on the tracks and the unforeseen consequences that result.

The jury for the award praised it as “deftly acted, beautifully photographed and directed….The subtlety of the performances and the storytelling was defined with such a lightness of touch which led to the immoral and moral choices having a heavy impact on this jury.”

Valchanov described the award as “a recognition not only for us, but also for Bulgarian cinema, which is currently on the rise again.”

Chico Pereira’s “Donkeyote” won the award for Best Documentary Feature Film. “For some of us who live or lived in Edinburgh, it holds an extra special meaning: Our formative cinema experiences have been with EIFF, and just to return for our U.K. premiere is an honor in itself,” Pereira said.

“The Full Story” won Best Short Film, and “Poles Apart” best animation. “Piano to Zanskar” by Michal Sulima was recognized as the best EIFF Work in Progress.

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