Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Farming wins EIFF's top prize

As well as winning the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film, Farming’s lead actor also picked up an award

Article by Jamie Dunn | 28 Jun 2019
  • Farming

The 73rd Edinburgh International Film Festival is nearing its end, and that means awards time. This year's big prize, named after legendary filmmaker Michael Powell, went to Farming, the directorial debut from actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Based on Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s own formative years, the film follows a young Nigerian boy farmed out to a white Tilbury family, who subsequently joins a gang of skinheads (read our review).

The Michael Powell Jury – comprised of Antonia Campbell-Hughes, David Hayman and Philip John – said the decision was unanimous, calling Farming “an important, powerful and disturbing film… This story forces us to confront an unfamiliar, uncomfortable reality. Farming keeps you invested in its brutal world.”

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, probably best known for his role in Lost, said of the win that he was “absolutely thrilled to have received this prestigious award, named after one of my cinematic heroes, for my first film. It is a huge and humbling honour.”

Best Performance in a British Film

The Michael Powell Award wasn’t the only prize to go to Farming. The festival’s Award for Best Performance in a British Feature went to the film’s lead, Damson Idris. “I am truly blessed and honoured to receive such a prestigious award,” said Idris. “Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s life and triumph was shared with me in the most intimate manner and I am so pleased it is now being shared and celebrated by the world.”

If you missed Farming, you have a chance to see it again as it’s among the Best of the Fest, which sees some of this year's programme's most popular titles run again on the final day of the festival.

Best International Feature Film

The prize for Best International Feature Film, chosen by Natalie Brenner, Jack Lowden and Fred Tsui, went to Finnish comedy-drama Aurora, which follows the relationship that forms between a party girl and an Iranian asylum-seeker. The jury said that Aurora is “beautifully shot and executed, with brilliant performances from the entire cast. Our main reason for choosing Aurora is for its uniqueness and originality. We completely fell in love with every single character, big or small, all flawed yet beautiful and set in a world that we were reluctant to leave.”

Best Doc and Scottish Short

Best Documentary Feature Film went to Sakawa, an intriguing film about cyber-scammers in Ghana from Belgian-Ghanaian filmmaker Ben Asamoah. Best Scottish Short, meanwhile, went to Anca Damian’s animation The Call. The shorts jury, who consisted of Moyo Akandé, Regina Mosch and Tara Karajica, called Damian’s film “a highly imaginative, unique and poetic way of using animation to show what we can’t see; to get the important and relevant topics of loss and grief in families across in a very short period of time.” Special Mentions went to The Fabric of You from Josephine Lohoar Self, and Red Film from Sara Cwynar.