Stephen Frears' powerful thriller set among the illegal immigrant community, Dirty Pretty Things, won four prizes at the British Independent Film Awards last night, including best film and best director.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays a Nigerian immigrant, saw off established stars, including Ewan McGregor, to win best actor. Steve Knight, a first-time screenwriter and one of the creators of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, received the best screenplay award for the film
The awards, the only honours devoted solely to British movies, proved serious in tone with more honours going to a second film on illegal immigration and a debut feature about alcoholism. The ceremony at the Hammersmith Palais, west London, boasted appearances from stars including Joseph Fiennes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Orlando Bloom and Samantha Morton.
There was disappointment for several films, such as Young Adam, 28 Days Later and the Oscar-tipped In America, which might have expected success on the back of critical plaudits or strong box office receipts.
In This World, Michael Winterbottom's story of two Afghan boys trying to start a new life in London, won technical and production honours. Sir Ian McKellen was named the Variety UK personality of the year, and John Hurt was presented an award inaugurated in memory of Richard Harris.
Olivia Williams beat a strong field to be named best actress for The Heart of Me, a film adapted from a Rosamond Lehmann novel.
Best British independent film: Dirty Pretty Things
Best foreign independent film: City of God
Best actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dirty Pretty Things
Best actress: Olivia Williams, The Heart of Me
Best supporting actor/actress: Susan Lynch, 16 Years of Alcohol
Best director: Stephen Frears, Dirty Pretty Things
Douglas Hickox award for directorial debut: Richard Jobson, 16 Years of Alcohol
Best screenplay: Steve Knight, Dirty Pretty Things
Most promising newcomer: Harry Eden, Pure
Best British feature documentary: Bodysong
Best achievement in production: In This World
Best British short: Dad's Dead
Richard Harris award for outstanding contribution to British film: John Hurt
Special jury prize: Jeremy Thomas (producer)
Variety UK entertainment personality award: Sir Ian McKellenReuse content