To celebrate its tenth birthday, the organisers of Keswick Film Festival this year decided to give an Audience Award - along the lines of Sundance, Berlin, Venice and Cannes - to the film that was voted most popular and enjoyable in the minds of Keswick audiences.
And the winner is...Young@Heart, an American film about a choir of seventy-somethings (and older - some much older!) who have made a huge impact in their own country and abroad by adapting very modern music (Sonic Youth's 'Schizophrenia', James Brown's 'I Feel Good', Coldplay's 'Fix You', for example) to their own style - a style of great rhythm and clarity of expression, which enhances the audience's and their own enjoyment of their combined effort. It's a very uplifting story of a committed group overcoming illness - even the death of some choristers - to achieve a high standard of singing and a positive effect on listeners: one of the most memorable scenes is their visit to a local prison, where many inmates are reduced to tears through their emotional response to the choir's music, and their gratitude at having someone caring about them.
The two films which were narrowly beaten to the Audience Award were Four Minutes and Lemon Tree - the former a highly dramatic film from Germany about an elderly piano teacher training a young convict at a women's penitentiary, and the latter an Israeli film based on the true story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemon grove when a new Israeli Defence Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her trees torn down. Both were well worth their high scores in festival-goers' voting, but it was the 'feelgood' Young@Heart that won the day.