'Dirty Pretty Things' sweeps the board at film awards

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The Independent Culture

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.

THE WINNERS

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 McKellen

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