Light shines on independent filmmaking


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The Independent Culture

Movie stars from every generation graced the red carpet as the film industry raised a toast to independent British cinema.

Actors Jude Law, Michael Gambon and Ben Drew were among the film-makers who turned out last night for the Moet British Independent Film Awards at Old Billingsgate Market in London.

Jude Law was at the gongs to receive the Variety Award for shining a light on British cinema throughout his career.

"It feels great, there is no tension here tonight," he said.

"I am very proud to be a Brit in a global film industry, and to be recognised after 20 years of kind of hard work is a good thing."

Previous recipients include Sir Michael Caine, Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Kenneth Branagh.

Law, who recently accused the Government of "cultural vandalism" over plans to cut art education from the school syllabus, said the awards were a celebration of the cultural industry.

The 39-year-old added: "Let's not ruin its future by stopping kids having free and fair artistic education."

Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt, recently back in the UK from filming The Hobbit in New Zealand, hosted the award ceremony.

He introduced the show by crooning the Frank Sinatra song Come Fly With Me, adapting the lyrics to refer to film-makers in attendance.

Among those mentioned were veteran actor Terence Stamp, director and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam and Idris Elba, who shot to fame playing suave gangster Stringer Bell in cult HBO series The Wire.

Speaking on the red carpet, Nesbitt said: "Once again I am agreeing to do this for the seventh time, but we are hopeless us Irish, we will agree to do anything.

"British independent film is in marked contrast to the economy, it is doing incredibly well and when times are hard we need film," he added.

"A lot of the films tonight are very challenging, some are very uplifting, some are very bleak but we have an incredible range of technicians, of actors, of writers and directors, and it is in a very healthy state."

Michael Gambon, 72, received the Richard Harris Award for his long and distinguished career.

The award was particularly poignant, as Gambon replaced legendary Irish actor Richard Harris in the role of Professor Dumbledore for the Harry Potter film series.

Gambon said: "I knew him and he died and I took over his part in Harry Potter.

"He only did two films and I did six films and all I did was copy Richard."

Andrea Riseborough won Best Actress gong for her role in political thriller Shadow Dancer, set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Asked about the recent flair-up there, Riseborough said: "Perhaps we are not as politicised as we should be as a country, because there is no need to be immediately, because we are relatively safe, but I think people care about the conflict."

Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, who played Machiavellian spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in BBC political satire The Thick Of It, was at the awards to present a gong.

In the series' last season, aired in October, Tucker was hauled before a Leveson-style inquiry into politicians briefing the press.

Asked about his impressions of the Leveson inquiry, he said: "How many ways can you say 'I can't remember'?

"How long could they draw it out for? I think we really have a problem with so many of our people in power who seem to have very, very poor memories about events - it must be drinking, probably."