Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Evil Does Not Exist’ Takes Top Honors at BFI London Film Festival

Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Evil Does Not Exist’ Takes Top Honors at BFI London Film Festival

Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist has won the top prize at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, which closed today.

In announcing the award, the jury stated: “Subtle, cinematic and underscored by fully realized performances, Hamaguchi’s assured drama supersedes the sum of its parts.

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It is both a lyrical portrait of family and community, and a nuanced consideration of the ethics of land development.
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Amidst a strong competition the jury is unanimous in our admiration!”

Evil Does Not Exist follows the fortunes of a young father and his daughter whose lives are disrupted when their village and its ecology are threatened by plans to construct a glamping facility there.

In accepting the award, Hamaguchi said: “My heartfelt thanks go out to all involved, especially the cast and crew who diligently toiled behind the scenes. Their exceptional work has always been a source of inspiration to me, and I am sincerely grateful for the result. I would also like to express my gratitude to the judges who recognized our efforts.”

Hamaguchi added: “I want to especially single out Eiko Ishibashi for her contribution to the music. As well as working on the music for the film Drive My Car, she also provided the concept for this film. I believe her music played a significant role in bringing this movie to completion and helped it to receive such great reviews.
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I hope this film brings joy to the British audience upon its U.K. release. And I look forward to visiting London once again in the future. Thank you for this truly wonderful award.”

The festival’s jury included Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante; Kate Taylor, program director of the 2023 Edinburgh International Film Festival; and English novelist Niven Govinden.

Evil Does Not Exist also won the Grand Jury Prize at last month’s Venice Film Festival, where it made its debut. The film was acquired by Modern Films for UK-Ireland distribution in August. In 2021, Modern had released Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, which went on to win an Oscar for best international feature.

Other winners in the competition included Mika Gustafson, whose Paradise Is Burning received the Sutherland Award for a first feature; Lina Soualem, whose Bye Bye Tiberias won the Grierson Award for best documentary; and Simisolaoluwa Akande, who captured the short film award for The Archive: Queer Nigerians.

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