Mike Leigh has been awarded the British Film Institute (BFI)'s 57th Fellowship in London.

Leigh wasgiven the honour by BFI chairman Anthony Minghella atthe National Film Theatre (NFT), where the Bafta-winning director was taking part in an interview abouthis career, following a screening of his 1983 film Meantime.

"I don't thinkI've ever been in a meeting as short as when Mike Leigh was suggested as thenext recipient of a BFI Fellowship," said Minghella. "It took aboutseven seconds."

Salford-born Leightook the opportunity to voice his support of and love for the NFT, of which hesaid he has been a "normal paying member" since 1961.

"That's notjust lovey speak," he said, "I genuinely love thiscinema."

Typicallyoutspoken he then highlighted the perfect location on London's South Bank praising its symmetrywith the surrounding cultural life which includes galleries, the BFI London IMAX and the National Theatre (where hiscritically-lauded new play TwoThousand Years (Cottesloe) is currently playing).

He said he wasconcerned by rumours that upon the end of its current site's lease thecinema would be forced to move to a less vibrant, beautiful and accessiblelocation at King's Cross.

Leigh is the60th person to receive the Fellowship but officially received the 57thFellowship as three were awarded jointly, most recently in 2002 with Harvey andBob Weinstein.

For moredetails on BFI Fellows click here