Iranian and Lebanese films win at BFI London Film Festival

Iranian director Panah Panahi’s debut feature 'Hit the Road' took home top prize

A still from Iranian director Panah Panahi’s 'Hit the Road', which has won top prize at the BFI London Film Festival. Photo: IMDb
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An Iranian film about a chaotic family on a road trip won the top prize at BFI London Film Festival on Sunday.

In 2020, that accolade went to Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, which also went on to bag the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.

Written and directed by Panah Panahi, Hit the Road is the Iranian director's debut feature. He is the son of Jafar Panahi, one of the most respected Iranian filmmakers and who is currently banned from engaging in filmmaking in his home country.

The film, which first premiered in the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes, has received excellent reviews since its screening. It follows the story of a family who are getting ready to say goodbye to one of its own. In the back seat of their borrowed vehicle is the dad, who has a broken leg, while the mother tries to laugh when she's not holding back tears. The youngest keeps bursting into car karaoke and the older brother, who is leaving the country, remains quiet.

Hit the Road has been described as tender and touching, as it follows the dynamics of a family of four while masterfully switching emotions throughout the film.

The Sutherland Award for First Feature Film went to Belgian director Laura Wandel’s Playground, while the Grierson Award for Best Documentary went to Liz Garbus’s Becoming Cousteau, on the life of French explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Mounia Akl’s drama Costa Brava, Lebanon, starring Nadine Labaki and Saleh Bakri, won the festival’s Audience Award.

Full list of awards at BFI London Film Festival

Official Competition (Best Film Award): Hit the Road by Panah Panahi

First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award): Playground by Laura Wandel

Documentary Competition (Grierson Award): Becoming Cousteau by Liz Garbus

Immersive Art and XR Competition: Only Expansion by Duncan Speakman

Short Film Competition (Short Film Award): Love, Dad by Diana Cam Van Nguyen

Audience Award: Costa Brava, Lebanon by Mounia Akl

Updated: October 18, 2021, 12:03 PM