The veteran actor and director Kenneth Branagh said he was "thrilled and excited" as he was honoured for his role in British film-making last night.
The Belfast-born star of My Week With Marilyn was handed the Variety Award at last night at the British Independent Film Awards. Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave both picked up major awards, which recognise achievement in the British film industry.
Tyrannosaur, a gritty tale of alcoholism and rage, won best film, with Paddy Considine, its director, winning Best Debut Director. Branagh, who won the award for helping raise the profile of UK films and accepted it at beginning of the ceremony so he could catch a plane to Sweden to continue filming the third series of Wallander said: "It is very exciting and thrilling. The nation needs to talk about itself and hold a mirror up to nature and these films are doing that and the more they are doing that the better."
The Belfast-born actor and director revealed he was most proud of his big screen adaptation of Hamlet, which he directed and starred in.
Ralph Fiennes was honoured for his outstanding contribution to British film with the Richard Harris award, named after the legendary actor. Fiennes arrived with Redgrave, who won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in his directorial debut, a big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Coriolanus.
Last year's awards were dominated by The King's Speech, which took five awards. Fiennes said: "I think we're both very happy that we shared making this film. It was extremely challenging to make at a time when no one was rushing forward to make Coriolanus. The fact that we can be here and honoured with nominations – it is great."
Redgrave added: "Ralph has worked so hard to raise the money and his co-producers were fantastic. They used every bit of their hunger and longing to make this film, to find a way to get the finance to make it."