First black 'Baftas' are used to show discrimination in awards business

Britain's black film-makers and actors were celebrated yesterday at the first awards ceremony dedicated to honouring black talent.

Home-grown stars including Diane Parish and Lennie James rubbed shoulders with American stars such as Eriq LaSalle, ER's Dr Benton, in a glittering celebrity evening at the Grosvenor House hotel in London to mark the first Black Filmmakers Magazine (BFM) Film and Television Awards.

Lennie James won best male performance in film for his roles in the prison comedy-drama Lucky Break and 24 Hour Party People.

Marsha Thomason, an actress from Manchester, won the award for best female performance for Black Knight.

Eamonn Walker, whose other work includes the Bruce Willis movie Unbreakable, was honoured for best male performance in television for Andrew Davies's contemporary version of Othello on ITV.

Parish won the female equivalent for work including Babyfather, the BBC drama which also won best director award for Alrick Riley. Lenny Henry won an honorary award for inspiration while Pam Grier, best-known for her starring role in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Injustice, a documentary about deaths in custody that has still not been on television after police objections, was named best documentary.

The honours were open "to individuals from the global African diaspora", and the Hollywood stars Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett won the inaugural awards for male and female screen personalities.

Charles Thomson, the founder of the awards, said they were intended to showcase talent and encourage the industry to acknowledge what black people could do.

"I am delighted that for the first time ever, black British film makers and actors will have a real opportunity to show the world their talent," he said.

Despite the recent Oscar success of Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, the organisers said achievement by British black actors and actresses was not being recognised. No black British actor has taken home a Bafta, the British equivalent to an Oscar, for a leading role, while Diane Parish was the only black actress to win a major Royal Television Society (RTS) award.

Mr Thomson said one reason black talent did not get the recognition it deserved was that other awards were organised by bodies such as Bafta and the RTS with a predominantly white membership

The organisers of the awards want the BFM Film and Television Awards to become an annual event, similar to the Mobo (Music of Black Origin) awards, which were founded six years ago to recognise achievement by black musicians.

The awards follow the establishment of the Black Filmmaker Magazine film festival three years ago, showcasing films involving black artists from around the world. The Independent on Sunday is among its sponsors.

THE WINNERS

Male Screen Personality – Denzel Washington

Female Screen Personality – Angela Bassett

Best Film – Training Day

Best Soundtrack – Ali

Best Female Performance in Film – Marsha Thomason

Female Performance in Television – Diane Parish

Best Male Performance in Film – Lennie James

Best Male Performance in Television – Eammon Walker

Emerging Talent Award – Zak Ove

Best Presenter – Angelica Bell

The Edric Connor Inspiration Award (UK) – Lenny Henry

The Lifetime Achievement Award – Pam Grier

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