Harris recognised for his outstanding contribution

Story by Jack Foley


A SPECIAL acting award, commemorating his outstanding contribution to film, was created for the late Richard Harris at the British Independent Film Awards ceremony in London on Wednesday (October 30).

Harris, who passed away on Friday, October 25, 2002, following a battle with cancer, lost out on one of the main prizes of the evening - the Best Actor Award - so judges decided to create a special accolade in his honour.

Harris had been nominated for his penultimate film, My Kingdom (an update of Shakespeare’s King Lear), but was beaten by television and film star James Nesbitt, who scooped the honour for his role in the controversial docu-drama Bloody Sunday, which caused a storm when it aired on British TV last year, and was followed by a limited cinema release. The film also claimed an award for director, Paul Greengrass.

A spokesman for the awards ceremony said that the decision to award Harris for his contribution to cinema was taken to pay tribute to the Irish actor’s ‘exceptional career’, especially in regard to independent and Brtish film-making. It was designed as a homage.

A second posthumous honour was given to former Beatles member, George Harrison, who received a lifetime achievement award was for his work with his company, Handmade Films, which was responsible for producing films such as Monty Python's Life of Brian and cult favourite, Withnail and I.

Of the other award winners on the night, Ken Loach’s critically-acclaimed but gritty coming-of-age drama, Sweet Sixteen, about a boy who turns to drug-dealing in a bid to create a fresh start for himself and his soon-to-be-released from prison mother, was named best British independent film, while its lead actor, Martin Compston, was named most promising newcomer.

Compston, in particular, is a revelation on-screen, but prior to appearing in the film was better known for his exploits on the football pitch, with Scottish side, Morton FC.

Samantha Morton took the best actress award for her role in Morvern Callar, Ratcatcher director, Lynne Ramsay’s acclaimed follow-up. The film had received a total of seven nominations going into the evening,

Ewan McGregor was among the other winners, collecting a special ‘personality award’.

l Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen has made a certificate breakthrough. In an unprecedented move Inverclyde Council has made the decision to disregard the BBFC awarded 18 certificate given to Sweet Sixteen & re classify the film as a 15 certificate, following the film's success at the 5th annual British Independent Film Awards on Wednesday night.