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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Brick Lane film praised in France
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Controversial British drama Brick Lane has won two awards at the Dinard Film Festival in northern France - two weeks after having its Royal Film Performance scrapped.

Tannishtha Chatterjee in Brick Lane
Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee plays Brick Lane's heroine Nazneen
The adaptation of Monica Ali's novel was named the most popular film by audiences at the annual event, as well as winning a prize for its screenplay.

The jury award went to Edinburgh-based romance Hallam Foe, which was also recognised for its cinematography.

Now in its 18th year, the four-day celebration of British feature films attracted more than 24,000 cinemagoers.

Speaking to the BBC News website at the event, Brick Lane director Sarah Gavron said it was "hugely disappointing" the planned Royal premiere would not be taking place on 29 October.

But she said she was delighted her debut feature had subsequently been offered a slot at the London Film Festival three days earlier.

'Insulting' book

It became free when another film, Gone Baby Gone, was removed from the line-up due to concerns that its child abduction storyline resembled the Madeleine McCann case.

The Brick Lane film drew protests from residents of the real Brick Lane in east London, who said the book "insulted" their community.

Brick Lane protesters
Protestors objected to plans to shoot the film in the real Brick Lane
Gavron said the specific sections to which they objected did not feature in the finished film.

"We're hoping that once people get the opportunity to see the film they'll realise there is nothing in it to object to," she said.

She also said she hoped the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall would eventually decide to see the film.

Royal officials said that while the controversy involving the film had been taken into account, the cancellation was ultimately down to a scheduling problem.

It is the first time that the annual gala, held in aid of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, has been scrapped since 1958.

'Universal story'

Set in 2001, Brick Lane tells of a Bangladeshi woman who comes to east London after an arranged marriage to an older man.

Gavron described the film as "a universal story about love and marriage, set in a very contemporary world".

Jury member Imelda Staunton said the six films nominated for Dinard's main prize - the Golden Hitchcock, named after legendary English director Alfred - reflected the "variety and high standards of British film-making".

Imelda Staunton
Actress Imelda Staunton was one of the festival's 10 jurors

She also said the event had been "fantastically supported" by the residents of the Brittany seaside town.

"You wouldn't get the equivalent in Ramsgate, would you?" said the actress, who was Oscar-nominated for her role in 2004's Vera Drake.

Gavron agreed that her film, out in the UK on 16 November, had received a "wonderful" response.

Other guests at the festival, supported by the British Council and UK Film Council, included veteran actor Joss Ackland and British director Shane Meadows.

The event began last Thursday with a gala screening of Ken Loach's recent television drama, It's a Free World.

SEE ALSO
Royals pull out of film premiere
25 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
US film pulled over McCann case
13 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
Brick Lane film heads for Toronto
16 Aug 07 |  Entertainment
Brick Lane makers cancel filming
27 Jul 06 |  Entertainment

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