Un Prophète Wins Inaugural Best Film Award at London Film Fest

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French prison drama Un Propète (A Prophet) has won the first-ever Best Film Award at the 53rd Times BFI London Film Festival.

The gritty film is about a 19-year-old French Arab man who is sent to prison for six years. He seems young and naive, but he quickly learns to survive by aligning himself with a dangerous group of mafia-connected inmates. Un Prophète was directed by Jacques Audiard, acclaimed for his 2005 film De Battre Mon Coeur S’est Arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped), which won several awards, including Best Foreign Language Film at the 2006 BAFTA’s.

At the closing awards ceremony of the London Film Festival last night (Oct. 28), chair of the international jury, Anjelica Huston, presented the inaugural Star of London award for Best Film to Un Prophète’s lead actor, Tahar Rahim. LFF’s commendation of Best Film is awarded “in recognition of original, intelligent and distinctive filmmaking.”

In presenting the award, Huston lauded the film as, “a perfect film… an instant classic and a masterpiece.”

Un Prophète also won the Grand Prix at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival last May. It is scheduled for limited theatrical release in the U.S. on February 12, 2010.

London’s two-week long film festival closes today (Oct. 29) with a screening of Nowhere Boy, Sam Taylor-Wood’s biopic about a young John Lennon, featuring Kristin Scott Thomas.

Watch the trailer for Un Prophète:

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