Other prizes include Gareth Edwards winning best director for Monsters, and Carey Mulligan taking best actress for Never Let Me Go.
Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech was the big winner at Sunday’s star-studded 13th annual Moet British Independent Film Awards, hosted by James Nesbitt at Old Billingsgate Market in London. The film won five BIFAs, including best film, best screenplay (by David Seidler), and acting prizes for Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter. Bonham Carter also was honoured with the Richard Harris Award for acting achievement.
But debut director Gareth Edwards took the best director award for his low-budget sci-fi drama Monsters, which was released in UK cinemas this weekend after becoming a festival hit since its debut at SXSW. The Vertigo production and release also won awards for production and technical achievement (Edwards formerly worked in visual effects.)
On accepting his award Edwards paid tribute to the strong collaborative effort that went into producing Monsters:
“There’s a little myth about this film that I did it all by myself but that’s not true. I had the most talented help in the world. Thank you Vertigo Films.”
A Prophet took the Best Foreign Film award and the The Arbor director Clio Barnard won The Douglas Hickox Award for best debut director.
The King’s Speech had led the nominations with eight, but some multiple-nominated film such as Four Lions and Another Year went home empty handed.
Presenting Bonham Carter with the Richard Harris Award, producer Duncan Kenworthy paid tribute to Bonham Carter’s courage and natural ability: “She didn’t begin as a RADA graduate or a star of the RSC, but as a schoolgirl with brains, beauty and very high high achieving ancestors. In the 25 years since then she’s shown what brains, beauty and breeding can achieve when allied to talent, ambition, a very strong work ethic and an insane, high wire desire to go to very risky places.”
Bonham Carter dedicated her award to her mother and Merchant Ivory Productions, about whom she said: “They’ve taken some hits but they were amazing. They gave me my break. They were original, different and always made films according to themselves. In Ismail Merchant’s memory I accept this.”
Ralph Fiennes presented Liam Neeson with a lifetime achievement award and praised his long-time friend as a “unique” actor who “exudes grace, nobility, effortless sexual magnetism, innate masculine charisma, self-effacing charm and a mischievous sense of humour.”
Neeson, who most recently played the voice of Aslan in Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader and Colonel Hannibal Smith in The A-Team, paid tribute to the UK industry and joked that he had been lucky to get as far as he has done: “I am honoured to be part of an industry that I love. I’ve done nearly 60 movies and I still haven’t been found out. I’ve worked with some great people, especially all the British crews, which have been fantastic.”
Jenne Casarotto, head of the film and television department at talent agency Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, was awarded the Special Jury Prize. Casarotto described the independent film market as a “battleground” but praised the “brilliantly talented free spirits” she had worked with. Casarotto was upbeat about the prospects for independent film going forward: “I still whole heartedly believe that with an exciting, original idea, real talent, the right team and sheer persistence it is possible to get special independent films made.”
Casarotto went on to say that she had a lot of work still to do, including the delivery of Terry Gilliam’s long delayed film about Don Quixote, a comment which received a rapturous applause from the audience : “I remain obsessed with certain unmade scripts. There’s one currently shooting that was written ten years ago, there’s another from 20 years ago that has a full head of steam and yes, we will get Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote made.”
BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM The King’s Speech
BEST DIRECTOR Gareth Edwards - Monsters
THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR] Clio Barnard - The Arbor
BEST SCREENPLAY David Seidler - The King’s Speech
BEST ACTRESS Carey Mulligan - Never Let Me Go
BEST ACTOR Colin Firth - The King’s Speech
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Helena Bonham Carter - The King’s Speech
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Geoffrey Rush - The King’s Speech
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER Joanne Froggatt - In Our Name
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION Monsters
RAINDANCE AWARD Son of Babylon
BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT Monsters - Visual Effects - Gareth Edwards
BEST DOCUMENTARY Enemies of the People
BEST BRITISH SHORT Baby
BEST FOREIGN FILM A Prophet
THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD Helena Bonham Carter
THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE Jenne Casarotto
THE VARIETY AWARD Liam Neeson