Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle was honoured by the UK movie industry last night as he was awarded a British Film Institute (BFI) Fellowship.
The film-maker, lauded for his work on Slumdog Millionaire, was given the accolade at The BFI London Film Festival Awards.
Among the big winners at the event was first-time director Clio Bernard, who won two awards for her film The Arbor, about the life and legacy of late playwright Andrea Dunbar.
Bernard won the best British newcomer prize and the Sutherland Award for a debut director.
Dunbar wrote three plays before she died at the age of 29 and Bernard visited the deprived Buttershaw estate in Bradford where the writer grew up to compose her film. She spoke to residents, including Dunbar's troubled daughter Lorraine, and their words were then lip-synced by actors.
Award juror Tony Grisoni said: "Clio Barnard's genre-busting film The Arbor is innovative, eloquent and emotionally resonant. This film, which touched all of us, both challenges conventional filmmaking and at the same time engages with real lives. A stunning debut."
Boyle, whose films include 28 Days Later and Shallow Grave, was honoured for his outstanding contribution to film culture.
He was presented with the award by Stephen Daldry.
Boyle's latest film 127 Hours - which has been described as uncomfortable viewing by those who have seen it - will be screened tonight at the festival's closing night gala.
The movie follows the real-life story of Aron Ralston who cut off his own arm after being trapped by a boulder during a solo climbing expedition in Utah.
Boyle said he was honoured to become the "runt of the litter" of great film-makers to be awarded a BFI Fellowship.
The Trainspotting director said: "There's a lot of very prestigious people have had this award and I'm quite happy to be the runt of the litter. Every litter needs a runt and I'm quite happy to be that amongst them, following in their footsteps.
"It's quite intimidating actually but a great honour."
Manchester-born Boyle began his film career in 1994 with dark comedy Shallow Grave and has gone on to make hits including The Beach, zombie film 28 Days Later, sci fi drama Sunshine and the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire.
The best film award went to Russian film How I Ended This Summer, set inside the Arctic Circle.
Legendary film-maker Martin Scorsese attended the event to present a special tribute to the work of the BFI National Archive, which celebrates its 75th birthday this year.
Lord Of The Rings star Andy Serkis presented the Best Newcomer award at the ceremony and revealed he was delighted at the news The Hobbit dispute had been resolved and the filming will go ahead in New Zealand.
The actor, who plays Gollum in the films, said: "I'm delighted. It's where it should be, it's where it was meant to be and a lot of the people wanted to see those stories being made and told in that place and it would have been a shame to have done it anywhere else.
"The film industry in New Zealand has really burgeoned through that process of making Lord of The Rings and Peter Jackson was very much at the front of that and everyone involved with the production would have been very upset to have seen it set anywhere else."
List of winners:
:: Best Film: How I Ended This Summer, directed by Alexei Popogrebsky.
:: Best British Newcomer: Clio Barnard, director Of The Arbor.
:: Sutherland Award: Clio Barnard, director Of The Arbor.
:: Grierson Award For Best Documentary In The Festival: Armadillo, directed By Janus Metz.
:: BFI Fellowship: Danny Boyle.