Baftas 2014: 12 Years a Slave defies Gravity to claim top prize

Steve McQueen's slavery epic wins two awards, but Gravity named biggest winner of the night with six awards

Fifteen years after winning a Turner Prize for his art, the film director Steve McQueen picked up the best film trophy at the EE British Academy Film Awards last night for his drama 12 Years A Slave, on a night where the big-budget British blockbuster Gravity was the other main winner.

McQueen, a Londoner, became the first black film-maker to win the best film Bafta. The director, 44, thanked his parents, before saying: “Faith, never give up … This means a hell of a lot.”

12 Years A Slave is a historical drama based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the US in the 1840s.

McQueen said his partner, the cultural critic Bianca Stigter, discovered the story. “As soon as I had the book in my hand it was a revelation. Every page was a revelation,” he said. “We can put it back in its rightful spot. Everyone in the world now knows who Solomon Northup is.”

The film stars another Londoner, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was named best actor for his role as Northup. “Wow, wow, wow,” Ejiofor said. “ I’m so deeply honoured and privileged to receive it.” He hailed director McQueen for “your work, artistry and passion”, and said winning a Bafta was “an incredible feeling”.

“I’ve been acting for a while and was here before,” Ejiofor added. “I’ve always been thrilled and excited by Bafta.”

Cate Blanchett was named best actress for her role in Woody Allen’s bittersweet comedy Blue Jasmine. She dedicated her win to the US actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died earlier this month.

Read more: Baftas 2014: Chiwetel Ejiofor wins Best Actor
Baftas 2014: Cate Blanchett wins Best Actress for Blue Jasmine

Gravity, the sci-fi blockbuster that sent Sandra Bullock into space with George Clooney, won six awards, including best director for the Mexican film-maker, Alfonso Cuaron. "You can't tell by my accent, but I consider myself to be a part of the British film industry," he said.

Cuaron later returned to the stage at the Royal Opera House in London with his producer, David Heyman, to collect Gravity’s award for outstanding British film.

There had been controversy over whether the $100m Hollywood blockbuster should be entered into the category. “I don’t need to set the record straight,” Cuaron insisted. “There are a series of rules that makes it a British film and this has all the requirements.”

Gravity was filmed in the UK, the vast majority of the crew who worked on it were based here, and Cuaron has lived in the UK for more than a decade.

Heyman, a British producer, said the award recognised “everyone working on the film - we had the most incredible crew”.

He went on to pay tribute to Framestore, a special effects company based in London’s Soho, which created the ground-breaking visuals of astronauts in peril after their spaceship is hit by satellite debris.

Gravity, which had an effects team of 450, won Baftas for best special effects, best sound and best original music.

This player is used within article copy as first element. Default size is 630w but FC code uses it for 460w article layout.

Read more: Baftas 2014: Winners list in full
Baftas 2014: Gravity wins Outstanding British Film

Others nominees for outstanding British film included Philomena, which won the best adapted screenplay award and stars Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, and the Bradford-based kitchen-sink drama The Selfish Giant.

The best supporting actor prize went to Barkhad Abdi, who plays a Somali pirate in his debut film Captain Phillips, with Tom Hanks. Abdi was born in Mogadishu but moved to the US, where he worked as a limousine driver before landing a part in the film after an open audition. He said: “I’m loving every moment of it. It’s quite a dream.”

Jennifer Lawrence was named best supporting actress for American Hustle, which also won best original screenplay and best make-up and hair.

Peter Greenaway, the director whose body of work includes 8½ Women, The Draughtsman’s Contract and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, was honoured for his outstanding contribution to British cinema.

This year’s fellowship of the British Academy, the highest honour it can bestow, was presented to Dame Helen Mirren by the Duke of Cambridge.

Prince William described her as “an extremely talented British actress who I should probably call ‘Granny’” because she had played the Queen on stage and screen.

Collecting her honour, Dame Helen, 68, paid tribute to her former teacher who died recently and “alone was the person who encouraged me to be an actor”.

Accepting her accolade as “encouragement to carry on”, she then made an impassioned speech in support of the National Youth Theatre, saying: “The way [acting] is going it’s becoming a prerogative for kids with money. We couldn’t afford it.”

Dame Helen ended by quoting from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, saying: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep”.

She added: “My little life is rounded with this honour, thank you very much indeed.”

Later, when asked what she had thought about Prince William’s quip, she replied: “I wanted to take out a hankie, spit on it and wipe his face.”

Read more: Helen Mirren criticises growing portrayal of dead women in dramas
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution