Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or-nominated film Rust and Bone has been crowned best picture at the 56th BFI London Film Festival awards.
It is the second time that Audiard has won the top prize at the Festival, after his last film, A Prophet, scooped the award in 2009.
Rust and Bone stars Matthias Schoenaerts as a man who leaves Belgium to go and live with his sister in Antibes. Once there, he falls in love with a killer whale trainer played by Marion Cotillard, and their relationship grows stronger after she suffers a horrible accident.
Playwright David Hare, the president of the award's jury, described Rust and Bone as "a film full of heart, violence and love."
The BFI's panel also praised Michel Franco’s Spanish-language film After Lucia, which won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival earlier in the year, and Pablo Larrain’s No, which also won special mention at Cannes in May.
Elsewhere at the ceremony, which was held at Whitehall's Banqueting House on Saturday night, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild won the Sutherland Award for best first feature; Sally El Hosaini was named best director for her work on My Brother the Devil; Alex Gibney's Mea Maxima Culpa won the Grierson Award for best documentary; and BFI Fellowships were awarded to Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter.
Speaking about his Fellowship, Tim Burton said: “I feel very touched and grateful to the BFI for this tremendous honour. It means more than I can put into words to receive the BFI Fellowship and to be included alongside the great directors who have received it before me.”
Helena Bonham Carter echoed his sentiments, saying: “I am somewhat bewildered and not sure that I am deserving of such an honour as a Fellowship from the BFI, but shall accept it with deep gratitude.”
BFI chairman Greg Dyke lauded all of this year's nominees and winners, saying: “I want to congratulate all the filmmakers honoured with nominations this year, for their vision, skill, passion and creativity.”
This year's BFI London Film Festival has also seen attendence levels at their highest ever, with 149,000 people visitng events and screenings in cinemas across the capital. The Festival closed last night with the European premiere of Harry Potter director Mike Newell's Great Expectations adaptation.