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Dirty Pretty Things cleans up at independent film awards

Story by: Jack Foley

STEPHEN Frears' critically-acclaimed drama, about the plight of illegal immigrants working in London, entitled Dirty Pretty Things, took four of the top awards at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), which were announced on Tuesday (November 4, 2003).

The controversial movie took four prizes, including best British film and best director, as well as best actor, for Chiwetel Ejiofor (soon to be seen in Love Actually), and best screenplay.

Another refugee drama, In This World, by Michael Winterbottom, triumphed in the best production and best technical achievement categories, in what proved to be a good night for films that highlighted difficult subjects.

Frears' achievement was all the more impressive, given the strength of opposition it faced in the best film category. It also capped a terrific year for the film, which was one of the highlights of last year's London Film Festival.

It beat off competition from Danny Boyle's popular horror movie, 28 Days Later, and from the dramas Buffalo Soldiers, The Magdalene Sisters and Young Adam.

Other notable winners at the sixth annual awards included Olivia Williams, who was named best actress for The Heart Of Me, Harry Eden, who took best newcomer for Pure, and Richard Jobson, who won best debut director for his film, 16 Years of Alcohol, which has been selected to close this year's Raindance Film Festival.

The critically-acclaimed Brazilian film, City of God, won the prize for best foreign film.

The Richard Harris Award - a tribute to the late Irish actor, who died last year - was won by veteran star John Hurt, who said he was surprised and honoured. He can currently be seen, back on the big screen, in one of his most famous roles, in Alien: The Director's Cut.

Controversial Irish drama, The Magdalene Sisters, won the jury award, while Sir Ian McKellen was named personality of the year, and took the opportunity to bemoan the British film industry for not taking more risks.

He questioned why epic movies such as Lord of the Rings, which concludes this December, with The Return of the King, could not be made in the UK.

Commenting on this year's ceremony itself, however, BIFA founder, Elliot Grove, said this year had been 'unprecedented... because of the extraordinarily high standard of work produced'.

"This year, the quality seems to have been higher than ever and we had to extend the nominations in each category to really do it justice," he added.


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