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Vera Drake cleans up at British Independent Film Awards



Story by: Jack Foley

ABORTION drama, Vera Drake, swept the board at the British Independent Film Awards, taking six prizes at the annual event.

Mike Leigh's controversial drama, which won the Golden Lion at Venice and opened the London Film Festival, was named Best British Independent Film.

Leigh was named best director and the film's star, Imelda Staunton, followed up her Venice success by being named Best Actress. Her co-star, Phil Davis, who plays her loyal husband, was named best actor.

The film is set in 1950s London as Vera Drake (Staunton) performs illegal abortions for women who get into trouble.

When one of her patients almost dies, however, the police investigation leads to Drake and shatters the lives of everyone around her.

The film was one of the strong performers at this year's London Film Festival and opens in UK cinemas in January.

Director, Mike Leigh, described the accolades as 'a surprise and an honour.

Of the other award winners (announced on Tuesday, November 30, 2004), Bafta-winning documentary, Touching the Void, picked up two awards, while zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead, won best screenplay for its writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright.

Ashley Walters, a member of So Solid Crew, was named best newcomer for his performance in Bullet Boy, about gang life in London.

And popular Korean film, Oldboy, beat The Motorcycle Diaries and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 to win best foreign film.

The thriller, by Chan-wook Park, tells the tale of a man imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years with no explanation as to why.

The Raindance Award went to The Barn, a film which which focused on two injured US brothers locked in a barn following a run-in with some comedy East End gangsters. It is directed by Ruaridh Webster.

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