Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things was the big winner at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) this evening (Nov 4, 2003).

The unconventional drama about illegal immigrants working in the UK hotel trade was named as best film, earned Frears the best director prize and gave leading man Chiwetel Ejiofor another best actor award.

Steve Knight, Dirty Pretty Things scriptwriter and co-creator of hit quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' was also named as best screenwriter. The film was the first feature for both Knight and Celador Films.

Distributed in the UK by Buena Vista it has grossed $1.4m (£829,099) and was sold widely by Miramax International. It has taken $11.85m worldwide so far.

Another film dealing with refugee and immigration themes, Michael Winterbottom's In This World, came away with multiple awards. The film, which previously won the Berlin festival Golden Bear, picked up BIFAs for best achievement in production and best technical achievement.

Richard Jobson's debut feature Sixteen Years Of Alcohol picked up the Douglas Hickox Award for best work by a new director and earned Susan Lynch the BIFA for best actress.

City Of God (Cidade De Deus), a debut feature by Brazil's Fernando Meirelles, was named best foreign film at the ceremony at the Po Na Na nightclub in Hammersmith Palais. The BIFAs, in their sixth year, are organised by Elliot Grove of the Raindance festival.

British Independent Film Awards 2003 winners list
Best British film
Dirty Pretty Things

Best achievement in production
In This World

Best British documentary

Best British Short Film
Dad's Dead

Best director of a British independent film
Stephen Frears for Dirty Pretty Things

Best foreign independent film
City Of God

Best performance by a supporting actor or actress in a British independent film
Susan Lynch in 16 Years Of Alcohol

Pest performance by an actor in a British independent film
Chiwetel Ejiofor in Dirty Pretty Things

Best performance by an actress in a British independent film
Olivia Williams in Heart Of Me

Best screenplay
Steve Knight for Dirty Pretty Things

Best technical achievement
Peter Christelis (editing) for In This World

British Airways Bursary
Lenka Clayton

Most promising newcomer
Harry Eden in Pure

The Douglas Hickox award
Richard Jobson for 16 Years Of Alcohol

The Richard Harris award
John Hurt

The special jury prize
Jeremy Thomas

Jury 2003 award - best ensemble cast
The Magdalene Sisters

The Variety UK Personality Award
Sir Ian McKellen