Ambassador Stephen Dawson; Credit: Ali Sahib

The 13th annual British & Irish Film Festival Luxembourg (BIFFL) came to a close on Saturday evening with the Awards and Closing Screening at Ciné Utopia in Luxembourg-Limpertsberg.

Festival organiser Geoff Thompson briefly recalled the 9 days of feature films, short films, seminars, other events, special guests and receptions. Referring to the programming, he described it as a real blend of festival films and more mainstream films; as ever, he observed, the documentary strand was very well received by the festival audience. But it was the return of the Special Guests, in particular, that really made this festival.

He thanked the various festival partners, including the Luxembourg branch of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann, the Irish Club of Luxembourg, the Indian Business Chamber of Luxembourg, the British Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (celebrating its 30th anniversary), the Ireland Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (celebrating its 10th anniversary), Kachen, (celebrating its 10th anniversary), the UNHCR and LUkraine.

He singled out the tree midweek events for special mention, namely the seminar on "The Business of... Film Production", the seminar on "Hitchcock. Actor and Performer", and the special "Solidarity with Refugees" event. He recalled "If there was one special moment that encapsulated the spirit of the festival and eclipsed all the others, it was when Ukrainian refugee offered the use of his apartment in Kyiv to photographer and film director Ali Sahib who plans to return to Ukraine for part 2 of his documentary film”.

He concluded his wrapping up of the festival by also thanking the venues, sponsors, advertisers, volunteers and the audiences which he mentioned were up around 10% from 2021 figures.

Stephen Dawson, the Ambassador of Ireland to Luxembourg, thanked Geoff Thompson for the organisation of the festival and explained that it takes months of planning, and he also recognised the work of all the volunteers behind the scenes. He jokingly remarked that he has seen more British and Irish films in Luxembourg since his arrival here three years ago, than he did when based in Dublin.


The Audience Prize was won by Ruan Magan for his film "Steps of Freedom: the Story of Irish Dance", with Dónal Ó Céilleachair's "Continuing Traditions" a close second, and Richie Adams' Scottish drama "The Road Dance" in third (here documentaries continued their traditional strong showing in the end-of-festival BIFFL awards).

The Audience Award went to Ben Bosch and Jerry Cadogan who won a hamper from Home from Home and a magnum of crémant from Bernard-Massard.

The Critics' Award went to Philip Barantini's "Boiling Point" which Geoff Thompson described as tense, gripping, filmed in one continuous shot, a great script, multiple storylines, empathy with the characters and riveting.

The Closing Screening was Emer Reynolds' comedy drama "Joyride" which stars Olivia Colman. Emer (who is the festival's first return guest, having been at the BIFFL previously in 2017 for her space documentary "The Farthest"; another of her films "Songs for While I'm Away" was also screened during last year's festival) took part in a post-screening Q&A during which she recalled how the film came into being, how the film was cast and how and when it was shot and then edited.

The event was rounded off by a reception hosted by the Embassy of Ireland in Luxembourg.