The actress Katie Jarvis, who was spotted by a casting agent at Tilbury Town railway station in Essex and went on to be the toast of last year's Cannes Film Festival, was last night named most Promising Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards.
The 18-year-old, who left school last summer having never acted, portrayed the troubled teenage daughter of a council estate single mother in the film Fish Tank, whose director Andrea Arnold was named best director. Jarvis said: "I'm in shock. If Andrea hadn't picked me for the film I'd probably still be in college doing beauty therapy."
Sir Michael Caine accepted the Variety Award of Lifetime Achievement at the British Independent Film Awards. The two-time Oscar winner revealed he had been "amazed" by the standard of talent shown among the nominees at the award ceremony in London last night.
Caine said: "It's completely different this sort of awards - it's very small, it's not televised, it's just a very personal British thing, and to me it's a learning process the entire evening. There has been so much talent out there that I didn't know about. I thought there was a massive talent here but even I underestimated it. It's fantastic."
The 76-year-old actor revealed he is now running out of space to keep all the awards he has received in his long film career.
He said: "I have a very big office and I have books all the way round and on the top of the bookshelf I have an empty space so these awards go all the way round - it's getting a bit tight I must say."
An Education star Carey Mulligan, who won the award for Best Actress and is tipped for an Oscar nomination, vowed not to abandon British cinema for the bright lights of Hollywood.
The 24-year-old London-born actress said: "I just want to work and find the coolest part, wherever that is or the most interesting part and that so often in England. Wherever the job is I guess, that kind of moves around. I do want to do more theatre so hopefully I can get to do a play somewhere in the West End. I miss that the most - doing plays in London."
Anne-Marie Duff's award for Best Supporting Actress broke in her hands on stage as she made her acceptance speech.
She laughed: "I didn't break it - it just fell apart."
The 39-year-old actress beat her Nowhere Boy co-star Kristin Scott-Thomas to the title but insisted there was no rivalry between them.
Duff said: "Kristin and I get on so well and she sent me an e-mail to wish me luck for tonight - genuinely. So I think she'll be delighted to know it went our way, and I think that's the point isn't it?"
Katie Jarvis, the 18-year-old star of Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, won Most Promising Newcomer.
She said: "I'm in shock. If Andrea hadn't picked me for the film I'd probably still be in college doing beauty therapy but this is amazing."
Jarvis revealed she plans to continue acting but is yet to find a project.
The full list of winners in the British Independent Film Awards were:
BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM: Moon
BEST DIRECTOR (Sponsored by The Creative Partnership): Andrea Arnold - Fish Tank
THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD (BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR) Duncan Jones - Moon
BEST SCREENPLAY (Sponsored by BBC Film): In The Loop - Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche
BEST ACTRESS (Sponsored by M.A.C.): Carey Mulligan - An Education
BEST ACTOR (Sponsored by Stolichnaya): Tom Hardy - Cronson
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne-Marie Duff - Nowhere Boy
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Sponsored by Stolichnaya): John Henshaw - Looking for Eric
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER (Sponsored by Optimum Releasing): Katie Jarvis - Fish Tank
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION: Bunny And The Bull
RAIN DANCE AWARD (Sponsored by Rain Dance): Down Terrace
TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT (Sponsored by Three Mill Studios): Bright Star - Cinematography - Greig Fraser
BEST DOCUMENTARY (Sponsored by Chapter Media): Mugabe and the White African
BEST BRITISH SHORT: Love You More
BEST FOREIGN FILM: Let The Right One In
THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for outstanding contribution to British film): Daniel Day-Lewis
THE VARIETY AWARD: Sir Michael Caine
THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (Sponsored by UK Film Council): Baz Bamigboye