UK director Steve McQueen has received the British Film Institute’s highest honour at the London Film Festival.
The Oscar-winning director of 12 Years a Slave was presented with the BFI Fellowship on Saturday by actor Michael Fassbender at a special awards dinner.
Certain Women, directed by Kelly Reichardt and starring Michelle Williams, Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart, won the prize for best film.
Julia Ducournau won the Sutherland Award for best first feature for Raw.
Speaking to the BBC’s Jason Korsner afterwards, McQueen said: “It’s a good honour.
“It’s one of those things where you’re just chuffed.
“It’s a case of just continuing with the work but it’s one of those things that give you a little spring in your step, for sure.”
Certain Women, which follows the lives of three Montana women, was described by a panel of jurors as a “humane and poignant story that calibrates with startling vulnerability and delicate understatement the isolation, frustrations and loneliness of lives unlived in a quiet corner of rural America”.
French director Julia Ducournau’s Raw – a playful coming-of-age horror tale about a vegan who becomes a cannibal – was described as “both unique and unsettling and will quite literally make some swoon”.
Ducournau said that with so few women working at the top level of the film industry she was encouraged to see female directors being recognised.
She added: “I think it’s about time that things are starting to change.
“I cannot put more emphasis on ‘starting’.
“It’s good that doors are being opened right now and you’re seeing more and more representation of women in the movie industry.”
The prize for most original, technical and culturally important documentary went to Mehrdad Oskouei’s Starless Dreams, which portrays juvenile delinquent women at the extreme margins of Iranian society.
Best short film was 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo, a joint production by Syrian photographer Issa Touma, Thomas Vroege and Floor van de Muelen.
Jury president Mat Kirkby said: “Not only does his documentary show what one person, one camera and a restricted view of an alleyway can do to reveal something as complex, confusing, and terrifying as a civil war, but also it demonstrates the power of film to reach the wider world, and make those of us more fortunate re-assess the freedom we take for granted.”
Touma said: “I’m really sad to find out that our intellectuals left to London, Paris and Amsterdam and they want to dance a freedom dance from there, which is – they can’t do anything.
“And this is why they give so much chance for the fanatics to grow up everywhere.
“So you cannot change anything from far away.”